Minnesota moved into October with several days of COVID case numbers above 1,000. It doesn’t look like the coronavirus will be tamed any time soon. And now state health officials are recording surges in northern, central and southern Minnesota.
Those areas of Greater Minnesota, mostly rural areas, have been behind much of the recent increase in new cases. Jan Malcolm, Minnesota Health Commissioner, says this uptick should alert Minnesotans to a couple things.
“The speed with which cases can move through rural communities and the fact that, whereas early in the pandemic it might’ve seemed like this was a large urban phenomenon, that around the country we’ve seen some of the fastest growing case rates being, in fact, in rural areas. So that’s something we’ve been stressing. That this is truly a statewide issue. That there is no part of Minnesota that is untouched by this,” she said.
Health officials in Greater Minnesota have linked these surges to ordinary everyday events like getting together at a restaurant as well as to larger gatherings like weddings. From there, the virus travels home to other family, neighbors and friends and then into schools and long-term care facilities.
Kris Ehresmann, director of the infectious disease department with the Minnesota Department of Health, said this increase in rural cases has nothing to do with location and everything with behavior.
“We’ve talked about the consistent things we’ve seen that are associated with transmission and that is: crowding, lacking of social distancing, lack of wearing masks. And so any environment where that is happening, whether it’s in the metro area or greater Minnesota—that’s where we’re going to see cases.” said Ehresmann.
No Barrier testing and saliva testing operations are in operation across Minnesota. If you think you have been exposed to the virus or have COVID19 symptons you can find a testing location through the Minnesota Department of Health: here.