Colder weather, large gatherings – including weddings, and school events have led to a large increase in COVID-19 cases around the Minnesota, and Wright County is breaking records with new cases.
Over the last two weeks alone, more than 1,000 people have tested positive for the disease associated with the coronavirus pandemic. That’s according to Wright County Public Health and the Minnesota Department of Health.
That’s caused the magic “number” – cases per 10,000 people, to skyrocket in both Wright and Hennepin counties. As of last Thursday, the MDH’s most-current report, Wright County had 97.1 cases per 10,000 resident, meaning nearly 1 in 100 people, locally, were sick. Hennepin County showed a rate of about 73 cases per 10,000, with a major hotbed in Rogers and the Hennepin County areas of Otsego and Dayton showing over that 1 in 100 (100 in 10,000) number.
“It’s definitely uncontrolled spread at this time,” said Kris Eheresmann, director of infectious diseases for the state. “What we’re seeing is mostly attributed to large gatherings of people, including weddings and funerals that we’ve been able to see as ‘super-spreader’ events.”
The increase has caused a shift in learning models at ISD 728, which serves Elk River, Otsego, Rogers, Zimmerman and portions of St. Michael and Albertville. Elementary students will be transitioning to a hybrid model after starting the year in the classroom each weekday. Secondary students – those in middle school and high school – will be moving to full distance learning. Neither are expected to switch out of those new models until the start of 2021. The move goes into effect on Monday, Nov. 16.
“We make that announcement with a heavy heart,” said Superintendent Dan Bittman. “We know that this isn’t what the majority of what our families want, and we believe the best place for our students to learn is in the classroom. But we need to do what the science and data are telling us, and right now the best thing is to keep our students safe as the disease spreads again in our communities.”
Walz Announcement Coming Tuesday
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz will announce action items to address the new curve this Tuesday, Nov. 10. Walz, who will need to convene the Legislature to again extend his executive powers. Walz will look to enforce some new restrictions on bars and restaurants – including earlier closing hours – as MDH has traced several outbreaks to those establishments. Large gatherings will also be eliminated – weddings and funerals included. In Wright County, a wedding of more than 400 has contributed to dozens of positive tests around St. Michael-Albertville, for example.
Walz will address the media at 3 p.m. on Tuesday.