The Free Press
MANKATO — South-central Minnesota counties more than doubled their previous record for most new COVID-19 cases this week.
The previous record of 1,160 new cases was set last week. In the week ending Friday, the nine counties combined for a staggering 2,428 new cases, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
It equals out to a 109% increase in new cases within the nine counties over just the past two weeks.
The surge is even more dramatic when compared to the weeks preceding the two most recent. This week’s case total was 203% higher than the first week in November, while testing was only up 79% between roughly the same time periods. Going back to the last week of October, cases were up 470% this week despite only a 103% rise in testing.
Recent positivity rates, which measure the percent of tests resulting in positive cases, further underline how much the skyrocketing cases aren’t explained by more testing. Health officials have warned the virus is uncontrollably spreading throughout the state, prompting more restrictions to prevent hospitals from getting overwhelmed.
Blue Earth County accounted for the most new cases in the area this week with 742, compared to 387 last week. Every other county had a steep increase in new cases as well.
Nicollet County’s new cases doubled this week. After having 155 cases the week before, it had 317 this week.
Waseca and Watonwan counties had fairly stable case counts in the two weeks leading up to this week. Each county’s total shot up this week, rising from 36 cases to 191 in Waseca County and 28 to 102 in Watonwan County.
COVID hospitalizations and deaths are also up in the region this week. A Brown County resident and Le Sueur County resident were among 68 newly confirmed COVID deaths statewide Friday.
Minnesota’s pandemic death toll reached 3,150 Friday.
The Brown County resident was in their early 90s and the Le Sueur County resident was in their mid to late 80s, according to the health department. They’re the 90th and 91st COVID deaths in south-central Minnesota since the pandemic began, and November is now by far the deadliest month for the area yet.
As for new cases confirmed in area counties Friday, the health department reported:
• Blue Earth County — 89
• Brown County — 61
• Sibley County — 44
• Le Sueur County — 37
• Nicollet County — 32
• Waseca County — 24
• Martin County — 22
• Faribault County — 15
• Watonwan County — 14