Rice County Public Health Director Deb Purfeerst today told the Rice County Board of Commissioners during a Committee of the Whole meeting COVID-19 is probably not leaving anytime soon.

Purfeerst said, "It's not going to go away quick yet.  I mean, I do think we're in this for another year yet.  Then hopefully by next year at this time life will feel a little bit more back to normal."

Purfeerst was giving a COVID-19 Rice County update to commissioners.

She gave preliminary results from last week's testing at the Faribault Armory.  700 tests were administered over the three days with 38 positives or a 5.4 percent positive rate.

Numbers from the Northfield testing October 6-8 were 1,521 tests with 41 positives or a 2.5 percent positive rate.

Purfeerst emphasized Rice County has a very high testing rate, "Rice County shows up at 6,762 tests per 10,000 people.  That puts us as the second highest test rate in Minnesota.  Behind Mower County."

The high test rate she says, "Is related to a number of things. We are fortunate enough to have a lot of health care providers in the area that have had test availability.  We've had prison testing done. We've had a couple of different events where the state did surveillance testing.  We have colleges now that are doing pretty robust testing.  So all of that attributes to this cumulative test rate."

Purfeerst reported the Rice County Positivity Rate is below the state average of 5.2 percent, "We're well below that.  We're at a 3.6 percent positivity rate.  Again influenced because we have a large number of  testing done.  Now the testing at many of those sites can be done simply if you want to be tested."

The Rice County Public Health Department Director also gave the Cumulative Case Rate.  A number she told Commissioners she likes to look at because, "It shows the incidence rate.  It's showing you how many cases have you had in your population and kinda compares you to  everybody else based on your population."

"So we've had 229 cases per 10,000 folks.  That is a little higher than the state average.  The state average is 212 cases per 10,000.  So right now if you were to look at our ranking among 87 counties Rice County is 21st for incidence rate."

Purfeerst did tell commissioners there has been a trend toward an increase in cases in the county saying, "Again not a surprise.  We did figure that when we moved into the fall we would see more cases.  People are more indoors, closer together."

Purfeerst was asked when we might see a vaccine.  Her response, "We've been hearing end of November, December we could start to see some of that vaccine coming out.  For the general public i would guess that would mean more like later next spring before we would actually see it for the general public.  So I'm guessing later spring.  Even summer maybe."

Purfeerst also stated her department has been busy administering Influenza vaccinations.