Stock COVID 3

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

The Free Press and MPR News

MANKATO — The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 grew by 349 Sunday in the nine-county region, up from Saturday’s total of 262.

All but one of the region’s nine counties reported double digit increases, with 66 in Blue Earth County and 59 in Brown County. Nicollet County had 55 new cases, followed by 43 in Le Sueur County, 38 in Waseca County, and 34 in Martin County.

Sibley County had 33 new cases, Faribault County had 16 and Watonwan County reported five new cases Sunday.

Statewide totals also continued with an upward trend with 7,219 new cases, although the the weekly average of confirmed cases went down for the first time since October 26 as of Saturday.

The MDH also reported an additional 40 deaths Sunday. There were no new deaths reported in the nine-county region.

A total of 14,929 Minnesotans have been hospitalized for the virus, with a rate of 5.5% requiring hospitalization.

New cases have been spiking over the past three weeks in all age groups.

People in their 20s still make up the age bracket with the state’s largest number of confirmed cases — more than 53,000 since the pandemic began, including nearly 29,000 among people ages 20 to 24.

The number of high school-age children confirmed with the disease has also grown, with nearly 21,000 total cases among children ages 15 to 19 since the pandemic began.

The numbers help explain why experts remain particularly concerned about teens and young adults as spreaders of the virus.

Although less likely to feel the worst effects of the disease and end up hospitalized, experts worry youth and young adults will spread it to grandparents and other vulnerable populations.

It’s especially concerning because people can have the coronavirus and spread COVID-19 when they don’t have symptoms.

Gov. Walz said recently the state has data showing infection rates rising around bar and restaurant activity after 9 p.m. among young adults, noting that people who have the virus but don’t have symptoms are unwittingly spreading it.

Dan Greenwood is a Free Press staff writer. Contact him at dgreenwood@mankatofreepress.com

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