Stock COVID 3

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

The Free Press and MPR News

MANKATO — The Minnesota Department of Health reported 31 additional positive COVID-19 cases in the nine-county region surrounding Mankato Sunday — the largest area increase since the pandemic began — bringing south-central Minnesota’s total to 363.

Nicollet County had the largest increase of nine additional cases, bringing the total there to 37. One death was also reported Sunday in Nicollet County — a resident in their 80s.

“This week we became aware of many new cases, and lost two individuals to the virus,” said Cassandra Sassenberg, Nicollet County Health and Human Services Director.

“Our hearts go out to the family members of those who passed away,” she said. “These losses serve as an additional reminder that we can’t forget the importance of doing our part to slow the virus.”

Watonwan County had eight additional positive cases, bringing the total to 41. Sibley County’s had five new cases, with a total of nine. Blue Earth County had four new cases, with a total of 83, and Le Sueur County had two new cases, with a total of 35.

Waseca, Martin and Faribault Counties had one additional positive case each, bringing the totals in those counties to 20, 118 and 10, respectively. Brown County was the only regional county without additional cases.

There were 699 new positive COVID-19 cases statewide, bringing the total number of reported cases to 15,668. Of those, 10,897 Minnesotan’s have recovered and no longer require isolation and 487 remain hospitalized.

MDH reported an additional 22 deaths in Minnesota Sunday, with a total of 722.

Many of the recent outbreaks outside the Twin Cities metro area are focused around meatpacking plants. Officials have intensified testing in those hot spots, uncovering more infections. Over 150,000 Minnesotans have been tested for the virus since early March — that’s about an additional 7,000 tests as of Sunday.

In southwestern Minnesota’s Nobles County, where an outbreak hit Worthington’s massive JBS pork plant, about 1 in 16 people have tested positive for COVID-19. In mid-April, there were just a handful of cases. By Saturday, there were 1,353 confirmed cases, although the numbers are rising at a much slower rate than in previous weeks.

Dan Greenwood is a Free Press staff writer. Contact him at

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