The Free Press
MANKATO — A COVID-19 death confirmed Friday in Blue Earth County was the region’s 11th fatality linked to the illness this month.
The Blue Earth County resident was between 65-69 years old, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. The fatality was among 20 confirmed statewide Friday, raising Minnesota’s pandemic death toll to 8,295.
The south-central region’s 11 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in October put it well on pace to surpass September’s 16.
September was the nine-county region’s deadliest month for COVID-19 since March. October already has more confirmed COVID-19 deaths than any month from April to August had.
Blue Earth County has had 56 of the south-central region’s 290 confirmed COVID-19 deaths during the pandemic. No other area county has more deaths, although Blue Earth County’s bigger population gives it the second-lowest death rate per 10,000 residents.
Area counties also had a concerning jump in cases this week, after the three prior weeks had relatively stable case counts.
The nine counties combined for 1,035 new cases between Oct. 2-8, a 27% rise from the previous week. The prior week had only a 3% increase in cases, while the week before that had a 2% decrease.
Recent data showed this week’s jump in cases wasn’t merely caused by more testing. The increase in cases far outpaced the increase in testing regionwide.
All but two area counties had upticks in cases ranging from 11% to 71%. Martin County had the 71% spike, going from 100 to 171 new cases.
Blue Earth County went from 178 to 209 new cases, a 17% increase.
The two counties with fewer cases this week compared to the prior week were Nicollet and Watonwan. Nicollet County had a 10% decrease, compared to Watonwan County’s 3% decline.
This week’s total included 196 newly confirmed cases Friday. Blue Earth County’s 47 new cases were the most in the region.
New cases in schools also contributed to this week’s total. Several schools across the region have been added to the state’s list of schools that have five or more active COVID-19 cases among their students and staff.
The schools now include: Dakota Meadows Middle School in North Mankato, Kato Public Charter School in Mankato, Waseca Intermediate School, Madelia Elementary School, Madelia Secondary School and St. James Secondary School.
The Mankato Area School District had a total of 22 new cases across the district over the past week. That’s one less than the prior week.
There were 10 cases at the elementary schools or early childhood programs, seven at the middle schools and the remaining five divided between the high schools, special education and district offices.