Now labeled as “high” in community transmission for COVID-19, county waits to see if trend continues

Published 4:17 pm Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Is it a blip on the radar or a sign of things to come?

That’s what Mower County Health officials are asking a week after the county was pushed into the high level of community COVID-19 transmission.

Currently, Mower County is the only county in southeast Minnesota noted as “high” community transmission, but what’s driving that isn’t completely clear given that those taking at-home COVID tests are not required to report it to the State of Minnesota.

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According to Crystal Peterson, director of Mower County Health and Human Services, Mower moved past the threshold of 200 cases per 100,000 people last Thursday, however, just barely at 204. It’s not completely clear what’s driving the numbers higher, but Peterson thinks cases might be gaining momentum in long term care facilities, where COVID numbers still need to be reported to the state.

“It appears significant cases are creeping up in long term care facilities with staff and residents,” Peterson said.  “Is that an accurate picture of transmission levels in the community? I doubt it.” 

And it’s still uncertain where the trend is going, a picture that will become clearer this Thursday when the new report comes out.

“Tomorrow will be telling,” Peterson said. “If we’re further into the orange tomorrow I think it would telling if we’re riding the curve back up. We’re kind of holding our breath.”

As of last Thursday, county employees are required to wear masks in county facilities and visitors to county buildings are asked to wear masks.

Statewide, Mower is just one of five counties labeled as high transmission along with Mcleod, Morrison, Grant and Rock counties.

According to the Centers for Disease Control’s COVID dashboard, 2.6% of inpatient beds are in use by those with confirmed COVID-19. The dashboard is also reflecting growing trends nationwide in cases, deaths and current hospital admission trends.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health 72% have at least one vaccine dose, but that number drops significantly when looking at the part of the population that is completely up to date on vaccines at just 19.8%.