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West central Minnesota counties all have 14-day COVID-19 case rates of 25 or less per 10,000 residents

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. In the past two months, rates have fallen steadily and are near the levels first seen when the report was first released last summer. 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

Most area counties saw their 14-day COVID-19 case rate decrease or stay the same in Thursday’s report from the Minnesota Department of Health .

Renville County had an increase its case rate, but all 11 counties tracked by the West Central Tribune reported case rates of less than 25 per 10,000 residents. It's a sharp contrast to November and December, when all counties had case rates in triple digits.

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 state releases the case rate report at 11 a.m. each Thursday.

The current case rates are similar to those reported last summer when the state began issuing the report.

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.

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The state considers a 14-day case rate of 10 or higher 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 Jan. 24 to Feb. 6 and how it changed from a week ago:

  • Big Stone County: 23.92, down
  • Chippewa County: 7.49, down
  • Kandiyohi County: 20.16, down
  • Lac qui Parle County: 11.81, no change
  • Meeker County: 9.97, down
  • Pope County: 12.75, no change
  • Redwood County: 15.65, down
  • Renville County: 24.45, up
  • Stearns County: 19.07, down
  • Swift County: 20.19, down
  • Yellow Medicine County: 7.09, down

Separately, the Minnesota Department of Health each week in its COVID-19 situation update 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: Eden Valley Secondary, Eden Valley; Cedar Mountain Elementary, Franklin; and Benson Secondary, Benson.

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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