Stock COVID 3

The Minnesota Department of Health's testing lab handles samples of COVID-19.

The Free Press

MANKATO — A Blue Earth County resident’s death from COVID-19 was the 16th confirmed in the region this month.

September’s COVID-19 death toll is the highest in south-central Minnesota since March, which also had 16. The latest fatality occurred in a resident between 90-94 years old, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

Blue Earth County’s pandemic death toll rose to 49, tied with Nicollet County for the most in the region. The south-central region’s nine counties have had 279 confirmed COVID-19 deaths during the pandemic.

The area death was among 13 confirmed statewide Thursday. Minnesota’s pandemic death toll rose to 8,153.

Area counties also combined for 136 new cases. It was an increase from the previous Thursday’s 103 cases.

The full list of new cases confirmed Wednesday includes:

• Blue Earth County — 23

• Brown County — 20

• Faribault County — 20

• Le Sueur County — 18

• Waseca County — 17

• Martin County — 16

• Nicollet County — 13

• Sibley County — 6

• Watonwan County — 3

New test positivity data for the region showed steadiness this week, a relatively encouraging sign. The rate had mostly risen in the weeks since late June.

The region’s rate of tests coming back positive between Sept. 22-29 was 8.44%, a slight decline from the previous week’s 8.47%, according to health department data. Blue Earth County’s decline from 7.6% to 5.4% fueled the regionwide steadiness, as six smaller counties actually had higher rates than the previous week.

Overall, the region had a 4.4% increase in testing and a 4% increase in cases.

Blue Earth and Nicollet counties, the two most populous in the region, were the only two to have fewer cases this week compared to last week.

While steady positivity rates are better than increases, the rates remain high throughout south-central Minnesota. All are above 5%, a threshold used as a measure for concern about community spread.

Blue Earth County’s 5.4% positive test rate was the lowest in the region. Martin County’s 12.1%, a drop from 13.8%, was the highest.

Brown and Sibley counties also had positivity rates above 10% this week. Waseca, Le Sueur and Faribault counties came in above 9% — Watonwan County was just below at 8.99%.

Nicollet County had the second-lowest positive test rate at 7.8%, up from 7.4%.

South-central Minnesota’s rates remain well above the statewide percentage. The percent of tests coming back positive statewide between Sept. 22-29 was 6.2%, up from 6% the previous week.

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