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Southeast Minnesota COVID case rates continue to fluctuate

Olmsted County sees slight uptick as hospitalization rate remains steady with reduced severe cases.

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Olmsted and Fillmore counties are shown as areas with high community transmission of COVID on the latest map provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Contributed / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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ROCHESTER — Olmsted County’s COVID case rate continues to fluctuate, but some factors have remained steady.

“We have continued to see waves with new variants, up and down,” Olmsted County Public Health Director Denise Daniels told county commissioners this week. “The one thing that is kind of holding steady for us, unfortunately, is the hospitalization.”

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The county, as well as several Southeast Minnesota counties, share a reported rate of 13.4 COVID-related hospitalizations per 100,000 residents. The number of admissions reported during a seven-day period is above the 10 per 100,000 needed to be considered to have medium or low transmission, depending on the week’s overall case rate.

The hospitalization rate, combined with a confirmed-case rate of 231.85 per 100,000 residents keeps Olmsted County listed as an area with high community transmission, under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards.

The case rate is a nearly 11.9% increase compared to the previous week.

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While cases and hospitalizations are above CDC standards, Daniels said the county is seeing fewer people needing space in intensive-care units, which she credits to the county’s vaccination rate.

The Minnesota Department of Health reports 84.3% of Olmsted County residents have received at least one dose of vaccine, with nearly 80% completing the entire series.

“We believe that our vaccine rates have significantly reduced the death rate here,” Daniels added, noting the 0.4% death rate in Olmsted County is one of the nation’s lowest.

She did point out that the county is seeing some lag when it comes to boosters. Approximately 42% of the county is up to date.

“While that number doesn’t seem significant, it is higher than the state and national average, and we continue to reach out to folks as people become eligible,” she added.

She said she anticipates the county will be seeing some vaccine doses to provide boosters soon, which will help address the existing lag.

Additionally, she said testing for signs of COVID in wastewater in Rochester and Bryon has shown declines, which typically forecast future trends. She said a slight increase was seen in Stewartville.

Olmsted County isn’t the only Southeast Minnesota county listed as an area of high COVID transmission this week.

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Fillmore County moved into the category with 265.82 confirmed cases per 100,000 in the week, a nearly 86.7% increase compared to the previous week.

Goodhue County remains the only county in the region listed as an area of low transmission, partly due to a reported hospitalization rate of 3.3 admissions per 100,000 residents. It’s new case rate is 153.22 per 100,000 residents, which is a 4.4% increase compared to the previous week.

The other counties in the region remain areas defined as having medium community transmission of COVID. Their latest reported rates are:

  • Dodge, 148.08 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents, for a 10.7% increase.
  • Houston County, 166.67 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents, for a 6.9% increase.
  • Mower County, 82.37 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents, for a 32.7% decrease.
  • Wabasha County, 106.35 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents, for a 34.3% decrease.
  • Winona, 190.16 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents, for a 17.1% increase.

The county rates compare to a statewide case rate of 178.3 new confirmed cases per 100,000 residents, which is a 5.8% increase compared to the previous week.
In addition to Olmsted and Fillmore counties, seven Minnesota counties are considered to be areas of high community transmission of COVID, based on CDC standards. The are Beltrami, Big Stone, Clearwater Martin, Otter Tail, Pipestone and Rock counties.

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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