Recently the New York Times listed Faribault-Northfield at the top of their list for the highest average daily growth rate of cases in America. The micro area had a growth rate of 11% where it's cases were said to double every 6.4 days. So are we really rapidly accelerating with COVID-19 cases? Or is it more due to the increased amount of testing that is happening in our county leading to the 'growth'? Let's look at the numbers from the public health department and put them in comparison with other areas of Minnesota.

Image Credit: The New York Times
Image Credit: The New York Times

In the most recent news release from Rice County's Public Health Department yesterday;

Rice County has had 295 lab confirmed cases of COVID-19, ranging in age from 5 months of age through 89 years of age, with a median age of 35.2   Eleven of those 295 lab confirmed cases, ranging in age from 31 years old to 80 years old, have required hospitalization.  Four of those 11 hospitalized cases have required ICU admission, and unfortunately Rice County has had two 2 COVID-19 related deaths.

The release goes on to address the increase in positive tests that is occurring in the county, which is based on the limited amount of testing that was taking place initially here in Rice County.

Rice County currently has the highest incidence rate in southeast Minnesota, and has had a rapid rate increase in the last two weeks, which appears somewhat artificially inflated related to earlier limited testing capacity. Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) data indicates that the current incidence rate in Rice County is 453 per 100,000.

Actually in Minnesota there are seven other counties that have a higher incidence rate, with the highest incidence rate in Nobles County at 6,534 per 100,000. If you look at the quote from the release above you can see that Rice County is currently at 453 cases per 100,000 residents.

I understand the New York Times is simply extrapolating data and 'running the numbers' of confirmed cases. By just looking at this data you'd think we are sitting on a powderkeg of cases, are we? The micro area of Faribault-Northfield has a population of  66,523 residents, Rice County has had 295 confirmed cases. Let's take the 295 confirmed cases and divide that out by the population and we get .00443 or .443% of the total population having a positive COVID-19 test. This is less than half of a percent.

I don't have a solution to the pandemic. I wish I did. We can only follow the steps laid out by our Public Health Department, which is to:

  • Stay home as much as possible, stay at least 6 feet from other people if you are in public, and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw used tissues in the trash. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your arm or elbow.
  • If you are 65 and older or have certain underlying medical conditions, stay at home and avoid situations where you could be exposed, including travel.

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