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Virus spikes in Brown County

BROWN COUNTY — COVID-19 cases have spiked again in Brown County.

Since Halloween, the county has seen 57 new cases of the virus, bringing the total COVID cases to 422 as of Tuesday.

The 15 latest laboratory confirmed cases are spread throughout age groups; involving two under the age of 10, three in their teens, one in their 20, one in their 40, four in their 50s, three in their 60s and one in their 90s.

In Brown County, 11 people have beeen hospitalized from the virus, but none are currently hospitalized. Sixty-nine people remain in isolation, and 348 have recovered.

Brown County Public Health Director Karen Moritz said no one event is causing the spread and no single location is the source. The increase seems to result from small family and social gatherings.

“People are more active and returning to social settings,” Moritz said. “Meetings are happening again, and people might not always be wearing masks and maintaining a six-foot distance.”

Improper mask use could be another factor. Moritz said the mask needs to go over the nose, and some masks fall out of place if a person is talking.

Transmission is reported through families and social groups. There is an increase in cases among teenagers, ages 15 to 19. Moritz said this spread is not necessarily happening in school. The same is true with businesses. Public Health has seen some clustered cases at businesses, but the transmission of the virus is not linked to the place of employment.

Moritz said by and large schools and businesses in Brown County have kept the COVID spread down. There is very little evidence of the spread happening in these locations. The main point of contact seems to be outside of work and school.

COVID has reached some long-term care facilities.

Social gatherings will remain a concern, especially with the upcoming holiday seasons. Moritz believes it will be difficult to maintain COVID mitigation during family holiday events.

“I anticipate significant spread after Thanksgiving,” she said.

Each day Brown County is seeing new positive cases numbering in the teens and twenties. In Brown County, of those testing positive, between 17% and 24% are showing no symptoms. Even those who are asymptomatic can spread the virus. The increased case numbers are already threatening to overwhelm the healthcare system.

Minnesota health officials reported 3,844 new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday — breaking a record set just a day earlier. It’s the fourth time daily cases climbed over 3,000 in the past week after reaching that figure for the first time last Thursday.

The state also reported 31 deaths Wednesday, bringing Minnesota’s totals to 160,923 cases and 2,530 deaths since the pandemic began.

State health officials said Wednesday that case growth over the past seven days climbed over 15% — almost twice as large as the testing growth rate of nearly 8% in the same time frame.

According to The COVID Tracking Project, the 7-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Minnesota has risen over the past two weeks from 6.53% on Oct. 20 to 10.54% on Nov. 3. State health departments are calculating positivity rate differently across the country, but for Minnesota the AP calculates the rate by dividing new cases by test encounters using data from The COVID Tracking Project.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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