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West central Minnesota COVID-19 cases slightly lower than a week ago, but statewide numbers keep growing

COVID-19 cases have continued to increase across the state, and more people are hospitalized, though the number of deaths has not increased significantly, according to Minnesota Department of Health udpates. The numbers are likely higher than the state is reporting, as home tests are not reported to the state.

coronavirus art graphic
coronavirus art graphic<br/>
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WILLMAR — The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reported in west central Minnesota declined slightly in the past week, to 561, and no area deaths due to COVID-19 were reported in updates from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Stearns County, the largest of the 11 counties tracked by the West Central Tribune, reported 307 confirmed cases for the week. Kandiyohi County, the second-largest county, reported 79 confirmed cases in the past week. Meeker County, the third-largest, reported 45 cases.

The average test positivity rate reported May 18 by the Mayo Clinic was 13.2%. The rate has been climbing this spring. The rate on April 18 was 5.6%. In mid-March it was 3%.

In the situation update from the Minnesota Department of Health , the state reported three newly reported deaths and 2,424 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.

Case numbers reported in Health Department updates are preliminary and reflect positive test results reported to the state. At-home test results are not included.

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The state's cumulative case count is now 1,492,863, which includes 1,422,196 total people testing positive and 70,667 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 state’s current total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 is now at 12,587, which includes 28 more deaths than a week ago. Of that total, 5,746 deaths, 45.7%, 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 33 people with COVID-19 were in ICUs across the state as of Thursday, and 409 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, one reported having zero staffed beds available. Of the 36 with non-ICU pediatric units reporting, 18 hospitals, 50%, said they had zero staffed non-ICU pediatric beds available.

Of 68 adult ICUs reporting, 26 of them, 38%, said they had zero staffed beds available. Of 130 non-ICU hospitals reporting, 38 hospitals, 29%, said they had staffed zero beds.

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:

The state also reports daily vaccine administration numbers. As of Friday's report, 3,914,064 Minnesotans have received one dose and 3,709,010 have completed the vaccine series statewide. The number of people listed as being up-to-date with their vaccines, meaning they have had booster shots, is 2,553,2471.

More by Linda Vanderwerf
Thanks to federal pandemic aid, Willmar's summer school has been able to offer experiences for students in addition to their academic classes. School officials say experiences offer students a chance to get to learn about their community and expand their vocabulary.

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.

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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. No area schools are on the list released Thursday.

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: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
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