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Most west central Minnesota counties see increase in 14-day COVID-19 case rate; rates continue to rise across state

The state Department of Health releases a 14-day case rate for the state's counties each week, showing the number of new cases per 10,000 residents over the two weeks. The higher the number, the greater the risk that COVID-19 is spreading in a community. The case rate is one factor school districts can use to decide which learning model they will use.

WCT STOCK School buses
Students walk to class after exiting Willmar school buses in this undated file photo.
West Central Tribune file photo

Many area counties saw their 14-day COVID-19 case rate increase in Thursday’s report from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Seven of the 11 counties tracked by the West Central Tribune reported higher case rates per 10,000 population than a week ago, and four reported lower rates.

The increases ranged from an increase of 18.32 for Chippewa County to increases of less than 1 in Pope and Stearns counties. The decreases in case rates were mostly in single digits, except for a drop of 17.61 in Redwood County.

Case rates have been increasing in the recent past statewide. In the latest report, 71 of the state's 87 counties had case rates of 30 or higher. Four weeks ago, 35 counties had case rates of 30 or higher. Six weeks ago, 11 counties had rates of 30 or higher.

School districts track positive cases and quarantine activity in their buildings and consult with public health officials and others to determine how to operate their schools during the pandemic. The case rate is one factor they may consider. The Minnesota Department of Health releases the case rate report at 11 a.m. each Thursday.

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The case rate measures the county’s number of newly confirmed cases over a two-week period per 10,000 residents. The state divides the number of new cases by the number found by dividing a county’s population by 10,000.

The state considers a 14-day case rate of 10 or higher per 10,000 residents to represent an elevated risk of COVID-19 transmission in the community, especially when the level is sustained or increases over time.

This list includes the current case rate for area counties from April 4 to April 17 and how it changed from a week ago:

Separately, the Minnesota Department of Health each week also updates its list of school buildings that reported five or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in students or staff who were in the building while infectious during a two-week reporting period.

Area school buildings on the list are as follows: MACCRAY Senior High, Clara City; Community Christian, Willmar; Willmar Middle School, Willmar; Eden Valley Secondary, Eden Valley; Litchfield Middle School, Litchfield; Litchfield Senior High, Litchfield; Minnewaska Secondary, Glenwood; Paynesville Elementary, Paynesville; Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg Secondary, Kerkhoven; and Canby Secondary, Canby.

School buildings that have not reported a new case for 28 days will be removed. If five or more cases are reported in a school building in a subsequent two-week period, they will once again be listed.

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In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
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