Polk County continues to have the highest per-capita COVID-19 case rate in Minnesota, as of Thursday, Nov. 19.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the 14-day average number of cases per 10,000 people in Polk County is 234.88, the highest in the state. Only two other Minnesota counties surpass an average of 200 cases per capita: Roseau County, which has an average of 201.14, and Benton County, which has an average of 201.11.
Because the per-capita case rate represents a 14-day average, it is a lagging indicator of a county's current number of cases. The most recent state data, last updated on Thursday, represents a date range between Oct. 25 and Nov. 7.
According to Polk County Public Health, which updates case numbers every Thursday, there were 402 active cases of COVID-19 in Polk County as of Thursday, Nov. 19. Three hundred and ninety of those cases were added this week. There are 14 Polk County people currently hospitalized because of COVID-19, and two are in intensive care.
A majority of the new cases this week were in people in their 20s, according to Polk County Public Health, followed by people in their 30s and 50s.
With the 390 new cases this week, there have now been a total of 1,949 cases of COVID-19 in Polk County. Of those, Minnesota Department of Health data shows that nearly three quarters have been in zip codes encompassing Polk County's largest population centers: 891 cases have been in East Grand Forks, 428 have been in Crookston and 110 have been in Fosston.
This year, 20 Polk County residents have died as a result of COVID-19.
In a video update posted to the Polk County Public Health YouTube channel Thursday, director Sarah Reese urged residents to push through COVID fatigue with a new hobby, or by practicing gratitude.
"As COVID cases across Polk County and Minnesota continue to skyrocket, we are inherently aware of our hospital capacity in terms of bed availability and staffing being pushed to the brink," she said. "Our understanding of the data and the risks associated with COVID-19 are the backbone of the new measures that were announced yesterday by the governor."
Gov. Tim Walz this week ordered bars, restaurants, fitness centers and other places of entertainment to close for four weeks. His gubernatorial order took effect on Friday. Businesses that serve food are allowed to continue offering takeout services.
In East Grand Forks, Friday, Nov. 20, will be the last day of hybrid learning at East Grand Forks Senior High School before the school transitions to two weeks of full distance learning in an effort to curb COVID-19 numbers and related staffing shortages.
East Grand Forks Senior High is one of two Polk County schools identified by the state as having five or more active cases of COVID-19 in its school community. The other is Crookston Secondary School.