The recent spike of COVID-19, driven by the highly contagious delta variant, shows no signs of stopping just yet in Minnesota, and it's greater Minnesota that is bearing the brunt of the cases.
Bring Me The News wrote at the beginning of September how the ratio of cases had shifted so that a disproportionate number were now being reported in greater Minnesota as opposed to the 7-county Twin Cities metro, where 55.5% of Minnesota residents live.
Since then, case growth has slowed in the metro but accelerated in greater Minnesota, with the ratio growing to the point that more than 3 in 5 new cases of the virus being reported are from outside the 7-county metro.
Here's how the ratio has changed over the past two weeks, looking at how many of the new cases reported since Sept. 19 have come from the metro.
- 09/20: 2,474 cases – 1,126 metro (45.5%), 1,348 greater MN.
- 09/21: 6,352 cases (3 days data) – 2,654 metro (41.7%), 3,698 greater MN.
- 09/22: 1,624 cases – 731 metro (44.5%), 902 greater MN.
- 09/23: 2,434 cases – 913 metro (37.5%), 1,521 greater MN.
- 09/24: 2,997 cases – 1,111 metro (37%), 1,886 greater MN.
- 09/27: 2,803 cases – 1,081 metro (38.5%), 1722 greater MN.
- 09/28: 6,203 cases (3 days data) – 2,590 metro (41.7%), 3,613 greater MN.
- 09/29: 2,077 cases – 791 metro (38%), 1,286 greater MN.
- 09/30: 2,874 cases – 1,052 metro (36.6), 1,822 greater MN.
- 10/01: 3,714 cases – 1,447 metro (39%), 2,267 greater MN.
- 10/04: 3,546 cases – 1,220 metro (34.4%), 2,326 greater MN.
Monday saw Minnesota record more than 3,500 cases for the second day running, and there were some notable county numbers contained within.
For example, Scott County in the Twin Cities posted 48 new cases in Monday's data from a population of 149,000, around the same number of cases from several much smaller counties in greater Minnesota, like Itasca (47 cases, 47,000 pop.), McLeod (44 cases, 36,000 pop.), and Polk (55 cases, 35,000 pop.).
And Stearns County, where some businesses are now enacting vaccine or negative test requirements, recorded 152 cases out of its 161,000 population, 55% more than the 98 cases recorded in Washington County, which has 262,000 residents, and not far off the 179 cases recorded in Ramsey County, which has 550,000 residents.
Early peaks of COVID-19 were felt more keenly in the more densely populated 7-county metro, but that seems to have shifted in the wake of the introduction of the delta variant to the state, with the metro now seeing some of the lowest per-capita case rates in Minnesota.
It is the first major wave of the virus in Minnesota since most of its residents were vaccinated, with the seven counties that comprise the metro having among the highest vaccination rates in the state. All seven counties have more than 70% of its residents aged 12 and over with at least one dose of the vaccine.
The metro counties have also tended over the course of the pandemic to see more residents consistently wear face masks compared to parts of greater Minnesota. All Minnesota counties are currently at "high or substantial COVID transmission" levels that the CDC says should necessitate masks be worn in public indoor and crowded outdoor settings.
School districts in the Twin Cities are also more likely to have higher vaccination rates among kids ages 12-17 and to have passed mask mandates for students than those in greater Minnesota. The latest data shows the 10-19 age group is experiencing a higher rate of COVID positivity than any other age group in Minnesota.
Of the 231 schools in Minnesota that have reported 5 or more cases of COVID-19 since the start of the year, 126 of them (54.%) are from greater Minnesota.
There has also been a shift in where COVID-19 deaths are happening in Minnesota, to the point they're now increasingly coming from outside its most populated region, though the ratio between metro/greater MN is closer than it is for cases.
The figures reported on Monday (data for Friday, Oct. 1) shows 13 of the 21 deaths recorded from COVID-19 came from outside the 7-county metro. On Friday, it was 9 out of 17 deaths.
Last Wednesday and Thursday, there were more deaths reported in the metro (24 out of 44) than in greater Minnesota, but last Monday and Tuesday more came from greater Minnesota (19 out of 33).