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Olmsted County rises to 'high' level of COVID community transmission

Five of eight Southeast Minnesota counties now in top level of CDC rankings.

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Olmsted County joined four other Southeast Minnesota counties on the federal list of areas with a high level of community COVID-19 transmission.

In a seven-day period ending Saturday, the county reported 174 new cases of COVID-19, providing a rate just shy of 110 cases per 100,000 residents.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses the seven-day rate of new cases per 100,000, along with the percent of positive tests, to determine the level of transmission.

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With more than 100 new cases per 100,000 residents reported, Olmsted County is considered an area of high transmission, after moving into the “substantial” category a week earlier.
With all Southeast Minnesota counties in at least the substantial ranking, CDC guidelines call for wearing masks at indoor public spaces. Cities, counties and local businesses are adding to the encouragement to limit further spread of the virus.

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“Olmsted County Public Health recommends wearing masks indoors in public areas and definitely encourages all to get vaccinated,” Olmsted County Commissioner Mark Thein wrote in a Facebook post over the weekend. “Please be smart and do so.”

Dodge, Fillmore and Houston counties also have rates of more than 100 cases per 100,000 people, and Winona County is considered to have a high level of transmission due to its 10.36% positivity rate for COVID tests over a seven-day period.

The CDC considers a 10% or higher rate to be a marker of high community transmission.

Dodge and Houston counties also have rates above the 10% threshold. Dodge County reports the highest rate in the region at 11.42%, but the seven-day rate has dropped from 13.29%, which was reported during the middle of the week.

According to the latest CDC data, 28 of Minnesota’s 87 counties are ranked as having high levels of community transmission. Another 41 counties are considered to have substantial rates of transmission.

Of the three Southeast Minnesota counties that haven’t hit the “high” level with the recent regional increase in cases, Mower County is the closest to crossing the threshold. It had a rate of 90 new cases per 100,000 residents and a 9.85% positivity rate over the seven-day period ending Saturday.

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Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or rpetersen@postbulletin.com.
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