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COVID data shows decline in lakes-area infections since Walz's executive order in November

According to the data, in all eight lakes-area counties, new COVID-19 infections have fallen every week since Gov. Walz issued an executive order in November closing dine-in service, gyms and movie theaters for four weeks. However, daily COVID-related deaths have increased in recent weeks.

Coronavirus art graphic
Photo: Pixabay

Daily COVID-19 data is showing Gov. Tim Walz's executive order in November has had a positive effect in reducing the number of new infections among the eight-county lakes area around Detroit Lakes.

From Nov. 10 to Nov. 24, Becker County reported 890 infections, representing 36% of the county's total infections during the entire pandemic. After the executive order went into effect on Nov. 20, from Nov. 25 to Dec. 8, only 502 new infections were reported, a 44% decrease in new cases compared to the previous two weeks.

Similar results occurred in Otter Tail County. From Nov. 10 to Nov. 24, Otter Tail County reported 1,396 new COVID-19 cases compared to Nov. 25 to Dec. 8, when only 864 cases were reported, a 38% decrease in new cases since the executive order went into effect.

Kristin Bausman, health director of Becker County, said she is also seeing the recent downward turn of new infections.


"The numbers are declining," said Bausman. "The positives that we get every day are a lot less than it was a month ago."

Active COVID-19 cases in Becker and Otter Tail Counties have continued to fall since Dec. 2.

On Dec. 2, Becker County reported 301 active infections, down from their pandemic-high of 404 active cases on Nov. 26. Otter Tail County reported 461 active infections on Dec. 2.

As of Dec. 15, Becker County only has 131 active COVID-19 infections, cutting their total by more than half. Additionally, Otter Tail County has 219 active cases, a decline of 242 cases in 13 days.

"Hopefully, some of the preventative measures that the community has been practicing has helped in our numbers declining," she said. "I'm just asking people to stay vigilante with their preventative measures, and hopefully, when the vaccine rolls out, things are going to look more positive and we'll get through this."

Daily COVID-related deaths have increased in recent weeks across the state and in the eight-county lakes area. On Nov. 18, Becker County had five COVID-related deaths during the first eight months of the pandemic, by Dec. 14, less than one month later, that total has increased to 29. In Otter Tail County, on Nov. 18, the county's total for the entire pandemic was 12 deaths, but, by Dec. 14, that total has grown to 37.


Graph of cases, hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths compared to age. (Minnesota Department of Health)

More than 58% of the total COVID-related deaths in Minnesota occurred in patients over the age of 80. However, 32% of the state's death total were from individuals between 50 to 70 years old, according to the Minnesota Department of Health website.

Of the state's more than 4,000 deaths, 68% of those deaths occurred in congregate care facilities, while 29% of the total deaths occurred due to community, or unknown, viral spread.

"A lot of our deaths were in the elderly population and I think it's hit some of our congregate care settings, and it's the congregate care settings where people are more at risk," said Bausman.

Most of the infections in Minnesota, about 70%, occur in individuals between 10 to 59 years old. However, about 62% of hospitalizations statewide are from individuals between 50 to 79 years old.

Cases by likely exposure (MDH - 12/10/20)

The rise of unknown exposure in COVID-19 spread in November was one of the reasons listed by Walz in his decision to roll back certain activities in the state.


Walz on Wednesday, Dec. 16, announced that he would extend an order keeping restaurants and bars closed for indoor service and tweaked restrictions on health clubs, social gatherings.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health Weekly COVID-19 report for Dec. 10 , the cumulative case count by county compared to population size shows only a small number Minnesotans have contracted the virus. Across the state, 6.6 individuals have contracted the virus per 100 people. The numbers for the 8-county lakes-area are:

  • Becker - 7.2 cases per 100 people.
  • Clay County - 9 cases per 100 people.
  • Otter Tail County - 6.4 cases per 100 people.
  • Hubbard County - 6 cases per 100 people.
  • Norman County - 6 cases per 100 people.
  • Mahnomen County - 6.3 cases per 100 people.
  • Clearwater County - 6.8 cases per 100 people.
  • Wadena County - 7.1 cases per 100 people.

Comparatively, Hennepin County has a cumulative rate of 6.2 cases per 100 people and Ramsey County holds a rate of 6 cases per 100 individuals. Nobles County, home to the city of Worthington in southwest Minnesota, holds the highest cumulative infection rate compared to population, 15.2 cases per 100 individuals.
"Even once the vaccine rolls out, we want people to continue with the preventative measures," Bausman said.

The measure of the economic impact to businesses in Minnesota was not considered in compiling this story.

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