The number of Becker County positive COVID-19 cases rose by two to 15 on Tuesday; and the number of positive cases in neighboring Clay County topped 200, according to COVID-19 case information issued May 5 from the Minnesota Department of Health.

The two latest Becker County cases are a woman in her 40s and a man in his 50s, according to Becker County Administrator Mike Brethorst.

Testing has been ramping up steadily in Minnesota, with more than 88,000 COVID-19 tests given so far, including 2,067 tests reported on Tuesday.

Of those tested, 7,851 people have been found to have the coronavirus and 455 have died, including 27 new deaths reported Tuesday, according to the Health Department.

The Fargo-Moorhead area is a regional hotspot for COVID-19.

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Clay County (Moorhead is the county seat) now reports 201 positive cases and 14 deaths, and Cass County (Fargo is the county seat) reports 605 cases and 18 deaths.

On the plus side, the first COVID-19 patient in Becker County is now considered recovered, said Kristin Bausman, public health supervisor for Becker County.

Friday's three new reported cases include a young woman in her late teens, a woman in her 40s, and a man in his 50s, Bausman said. “All are in isolation and are being followed by the Department of Health.”

The five additional cases reported Saturday were three women, one in her 50s, one in her 60s, and one in her 80s and two men, one in his 50s and one in his 60s, according to Brethorst.

Three new cases reported on Monday are "three males, age range 33 to 67," Bausman said.

The state health department continues to handle case tracing in greater Minnesota, at least for now, she said.

“With all the positives they’re getting down there (in the Twin Cities area) they’re a little overwhelmed,” Bausman said. The state has reached out to local public health units to find out their capacity for handling case tracing, and the locals have taken over some of that work in the metro area, she said.

“They go back two weeks,” to retrace potential contacts for newly-diagnosed COVID-19 patients, she said. “It can take a long time.”

Those who test positive are contacted by health authorities by phone, and receive a lot of education on the coronavirus and on how to self-quarantine safely and effectively, she said. Becker County may at some point be asked to take over those case-tracing duties, but not yet, Bausman said.

Other counties in the area also have growing numbers: As of Tuesday, there were:

  • 19 COVID-19 patients in Otter Tail County
  • 15 in Todd County
  • two each in Mahnomen and Clearwater counties
  • three in Wadena County
  • nine in Norman County
  • and 201 (and 14 deaths) in Clay County, where Moorhead is the county seat.

Hubbard County, on the other hand, remained Tuesday one of only five counties in the state without a case yet.

Some people may want to believe that the coronavirus problem is going away with the warm spring weather, but the opposite seems to be true -- there were 617 new COVID-19 cases in Minnesota reported Tuesday.

And there could be more to it than higher levels of testing, since the death rate is also climbing: Statewide, there were 28 deaths from COVID-19 reported on Friday and 24 deaths Saturday and again on Saturday. Nine deaths were reported Monday, and 27 on Tuesday.

Bausman is concerned about people getting careless, and asked that everyone “please follow the stay-at-home order,” and continue being vigilant by washing their hands a lot, covering their cough, staying home when they’re sick, and wearing a mask in public places.

More information and assistance

  • MDH COVID-19 hotline: 651-201-3920 or 800-657-3903. The hotline is available seven days a week, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • School and child care hotline: 651-297-1304 or 800-657-3504
  • COVID-19 discrimination hotline: 833-454-0148

  • MDH COVID-19 website: www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/situation.html
  • Becker County Public Health is available to answer your questions regarding COVID-19 at 218-847-5628, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

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