Minnesota has experienced exponential growth in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, and is now home to some of the country's worst hotspots.
That's according to the latest table update by the New York Times, which uses state data to determine some of the worst-hit areas in the U.S. for COVID-19 cases.
Minnesota currently has one metro area – St. Cloud – in the Top 20 for the worst current outbreaks, averaging 154.2 cases per 100,000 people per day over the past two weeks.
That's high enough to rank it 12th nationally, with the table topped by two North Dakota cities: Minot (252.4) and Grand Forks (202.9).
Furthermore, four Minnesota cities feature on the NYT's table for "where cases are increasing the fastest," which suggests they may become the next major hotspots in the U.S.
No. 2 in that list is Fergus Falls, which has seen its cases increase from 290 to 665 in the space of a week.
Other cities in that list are Faribault-Northfield in 8th, which has seen cases go from 381 to 700; Rochester in 16th, where cases have gone from 747 to 1,558; and Mankato in 18th, where cases have risen from 516 to 882.
On Monday, the City of Fergus Falls' Chief of Public Safety Kile Bergren posted a lengthy message on Facebook calling on residents to take precautions for their own safety.
"The number of COVID-19 cases within our region are growing rapidly and will continue to grow into December," he wrote. "I have received information from the Minnesota Department of Health that our community’s infection rate has hit 5 percent and I am sure by the time I complete this communication will already be well its way to 10 percent.
"As high as the number of cases are today in our region, there appears to be a good chance that they will double by the first week in December.nI feel it is important that we continue to provide relevant and timely information to the public in a manner that is most transparent so that you can make informed decisions about your own health and well being.
"I feel now is the time if you are a person that is most vulnerable to the virus, that you start to take extra precautions for you own health and safety. I also write to the majority of the community who may not be at as much risk, to start increasing your efforts to help protect all within our city.
"The most common source of transmission is currently being linked to small social gatherings. Wearing a mask, washing hands, social distancing, and regular cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces in your home and work environment are crucial during the next 30 days. I am a firm believer in keeping our community open during this time and equally committed that we take these simple steps to help protect those who need it the most. Regardless of what your beliefs are about the illness, find your motivation to do your part in keeping our community open and safe."