Region reports 14 deaths in past week, with Stearns County accounting for most of 3,300 new cases

Nearly 65,000 cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Minnesota, and 205 deaths were reported in the past week as the omicron variant spreads around the state. Hospitals continue to operate at or near capacity with ICU beds in limited supply.

coronavirus art graphic
coronavirus art graphic
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WILLMAR — Fourteen deaths attributed to COVID-19 were reported in area counties in the past week, according to updates from the Minnesota Department of Health.

More than 3,300 new cases were reported in the past week among the 11 counties tracked by the West Central Tribune. More than 2,400 of the cases were reported in Stearns County, which has the largest population.

Stearns County reported the deaths of eight people ranging in age from early 30s to early 90s are on the list. By age category, the deaths included one person age 30-34, one person 40-44, two people 55-59, one person 65-69, one person 75-579, one person 80-84 and one person 90-94.

Kandiyohi County reported three deaths, two people age 70-74 and one person 80-84.

Meeker County reported two deaths, one person 90-94 and one person 95-99. Lac qui Parle County reported the death of a person age 90-94.


In the situation update from the Minnesota Department of Health , the state reported 32 newly reported deaths and 11,560 new cases Friday. The report is released five days a week at 11 a.m. and includes cases reported as of 4 a.m. the previous business day.


The state's cumulative number of cases is now 1,138,246, which includes 1,110,693 total people testing positive and 27,553 reinfections. The state reports the number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 again more than 90 days after an initial lab-confirmed positive test.

The cumulative number of cases has increased nearly 65,000 in the past week.

The state’s current total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 is now at 10,971, which includes 205 deaths reported in the past week. Of that total, 5,228 deaths, 47.7%, have occurred in long-term care or assisted living facilities.

In a report of its response capacity to the pandemic, the Health Department reported that 260 people with COVID-19 were in ICUs across the state as of Thursday, and 1,356 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized but not in an ICU.

The state also reports the hospital capacity of adult and pediatric beds. Of the state's eight pediatric ICU units, two reported having zero staffed beds available. Of the 36 hospitals with non-ICU pediatric units,19 hospitals, 53%, said they had zero non-ICU pediatric beds available.

Of 68 adult ICUs reporting, 55 of them, 81%, said they had zero beds available. Of 130 hospitals reporting on non-ICU availability, 60 hospitals, 46%, said they had zero beds.


Statewide, 23 adult ICU beds and 14 pediatric ICU beds were staffed and available Thursday.

Since the start of the pandemic, the number of COVID-19 cases among residents confirmed to reside in area counties and the number of deaths includes:

  • Big Stone County: 1,098 cases; 7 deaths
  • Chippewa County: 2,449 cases; 43 deaths
  • Kandiyohi County: 11,043 cases; 124 deaths
  • Lac qui Parle County: 1,408 cases; 27 deaths
  • Meeker County: 4,953 cases; 70 deaths
  • Pope County: 2.382 cases; 14 deaths
  • Redwood County: 3,193 cases; 50 deaths
  • Renville County: 3,014 cases; 52 deaths
  • Stearns County: 40,702 cases; 329 deaths
  • Swift County: 1,872 cases; 30 deaths
  • Yellow Medicine County: 2,125 cases; 25 deaths

The state also reports daily vaccine administration numbers. As of Friday's report, 3,795,237 Minnesotans have received at least one dose and 3,559,835 have completed the vaccine series statewide. The number of fully vaccinated people is 23,080 higher than a week ago.

According to the figures available Friday, the percentage of individuals age 5 and over who have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine in area counties includes:

  • Big Stone: 65%
  • Chippewa: 61.1%
  • Kandiyohi: 60%
  • Lac qui Parle: 64.6%
  • Meeker: 53.1%
  • Pope: 61.2%
  • Redwood: 58.7%
  • Renville: 58.7%
  • Stearns: 58.6%
  • Swift: 61.2%
  • Yellow Medicine: 57.4%

The vaccine data web page is updated at 11 a.m. weekdays, but there is a delay between a vaccine being given and when it is reported to the Minnesota Department of Health.
The state releases an updated list of school buildings that have 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 through Jan. 8 are as follows: Lakeland Elementary, Willmar; Kennedy Elementary, Willmar; Willmar Middle School; Willmar Senior High; Lac qui Parle Valley Secondary, Madison; Stevens Elementary, Dawson; Eden Valley Secondary; Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City Secondary, Grove City; Dassel Elementary; Minnewaska Area Elementary, Glenwood; Reede Gray Elementary, Redwood Falls; Redwood Valley Middle School, Redwood Falls; and Northside Elementary, Benson.

School buildings listed may not have ongoing transmission. If they have not reported a new case for 28 days, they are removed from the list. If five or more cases are reported again in the future, they will be placed on the list again.


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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: or phone 320-214-4340
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