County infection rates of COVID-19 in Minnesota are high enough now that only two counties are under the threshold from the state health department that calls for in-person instruction for students of all grade levels.
The infection rates per 10,000 residents are specifically designed to help school districts make an informed decision about teaching models, be it in-person instruction, distance learning or a hybrid of the two – and it's based on the number of cases per 10,000 residents over a 14-day period.
- Tier 1: 0-9 cases per 10,000 residents: In-person learning for all students
- Tier 2: 10-19 cases per 10,000 residents: In-person learning for elementary students; hybrid learning for secondary students
- Tier 3: 20-29 cases per 10,000 residents: Hybrid learning for all students
- Tier 4: 30-49 cases per 10,000 residents: Hybrid learning for elementary students; distance learning for secondary students
- Tier 5: 50+ cases per 10,000 residents: Distance learning for all students
There are 87 counties in Minnesota, and only Cook County in extreme northeast Minnesota and Kittson County in far northwest Minnesota fall in the 0-9 cases per 10,000 residents tier.
In the two-week reporting period ending Sept. 12 there were 24 counties in the first tier of the back-to-school guidance. Even more indicative of Minnesota's rising COVID-19 situation is the number of counties in tier two (10-19 cases per 10,000 residents) continues to drop, going from 45 counties Sept. 12 to just 21 in the latest report.
That means more than two-thirds of Minnesota's counties fall into tiers 3-5. There are 33 counties in tier three, 22 in tier four and nine in tier five.
The nine counties with infection rates of 50+ cases per 10,000 residents are:
- Waseca County: 159.50 cases per 10,000 residents
- Martin County: 93.17
- Pipestone County: 77.30
- Kandiyohi County: 56.03
- Yellow Medicine County: 55.74
- Laq qui Parle County: 54.63
- Lyon County: 52.25
- Chippewa County: 51.62
- Murray County: 50.28
"Any increase in case incidence can represent a greater risk, but schools may consider a 14-day case rate of 10 or more cases per 10,000 to be an elevated risk of disease transmission within the local community, especially when the level of cases per week is sustained or increasing over time," the Minnesota Department of Health says.
Meanwhile, even in counties where in-person instruction is still happening, there are individual schools that are monitoring at least 5 confirmed cases of COVID-19 involving students and/or staff. Any school that reports 5+ cases is identified on the state health department's website, and on Thursday 13 schools were added to a list that now stands at 24. Read more about the schools that have been identified right here.