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COVID-19: Local data shows 'dramatic jump' in hospitalizations

Minnesota's COVID-19 case rates are continuing to rise steadily despite ongoing vaccination efforts. 

"We are seeing a fairly dramatic increase in cases these days, particularly in the last three weeks," Scott County Public Health Director Lisa Brodsky told the Scott County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, April 6. 

Local data shows a "dramatic jump" in hospitalizations, she said. Thirty Scott County residents were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the past week and four died. 

Brodsky said case growth is especially high among youth — around 86% of Scott County seniors have been vaccinated.

Scott County Board Chair Jon Ulrich said during Tuesday's meeting that two of his younger relatives were hospitalized with COVID-19 last week. 

"It's still very much out there," he said. 

The Minnesota Department of Health estimates at least half of Minnesota's current cases are related to the spread of variants.

In Scott County, 88 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant and one case of the B.1.351 variant have been identified through surveillance efforts.

The B.1.351 case was identified among a traveler in February, Brodsky said. No additional local cases of the variant have been identified since. 

However, health officials warn the variant data is based on only a sampling of positive specimens and doesn't represent the total number of variant cases circulating in the community.

Statewide, case rates have risen steadily for the past 25 days, Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Tuesday. 

Minnesota's average test positivity rate is also rising. On April 6, the seven-day average test positivity rate stood at 6% after growing one percentage point in one week. 

"We all need to pull together to reverse that trend," Malcolm said. 

In mid-February, Minnesota's test positivity rate had neared all-time lows after dropping below 3%. Around the same time, there were less than 50 Minnesotans being treated in the intensive care unit for COVID-19 and roughly 200 hospitalized in total. 

As of April 6, the state health department reports 497 Minnesotans are in the hospital being treated for COVID-19 with 114 in the intensive care unit. 

COVID-19 related hospital bed usage is up by 40% in the last 10 days, Malcolm said Tuesday. 

The local 14-day case rate per 10,000 residents continues to rise in southwest metro counties, with growth picking up speed in the beginning of March. 

Distance learning for all students is recommended with 14-day case rates higher than 50 cases per 10,000 residents, according to MDH's guidelines. 

Timeline of case rate growth 

Jan. 24-Feb. 2

  • Scott: 25.67 
  • Carver: 23.50 
  • Dakota: 29.75 

Jan. 31-Feb. 13:

  • Scott: 27.20
  • Carver: 24.40
  • Dakota: 25.54 

Feb. 7-20

  • Scott: 27.76
  • Carver: 24.90 
  • Dakota: 23.36 

Feb. 14-27:

  • Scott: 25.60
  • Carver: 28.68 
  • Dakota: 25.11 

Feb. 21- March 6:

  • Scott: 27.48 
  • Carver: 39.64
  • Dakota: 25.80 

Feb. 29-March 13:

  • Scott: 38.43
  • Carver: 50.79 
  • Dakota: 27.24

March 7-20 (Data published April 1 due to reporting lag period) 

  • Scott: 49.24 
  • Carver: 54.17
  • Dakota: 32.19 

Brown, Carver, Cottonwood, Faribault, Morrison, Pope, Steele, Traverse and Wilkin counties all reported a case rate higher than 50 in the latest weekly data published April 1. 

In the prior reporting period, only three counties landed above this threshold.  

Cases in schools 

The Minnesota Department of Health lists school buildings that have reported five or more confirmed cases in students or staff who were in the building while infectious during a two-week reporting period. The list is published each Thursday. 

On April 1, six schools in Scott County and nine schools in Carver County were listed as follows: 

Scott County 

  • Jordan Elementary School
  • New Prague Middle School
  • New Prague Senior High
  • Raven Stream Elementary School
  • Prior Lake High School
  • Shakopee High School 

Carver County 

  • Central Senior High 
  • Chanhassen High School
  • Chaska High School 
  • Cologne Academy
  • Holy Family Catholic High School 
  • Minnetonka West Middle 
  • Southwest Christian High School
  • St. Hubert Catholic School
  • Waconia High School 

Eight schools are listed in Dakota County, but none are within the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage District. A total of 159 schools are listed statewide.  

In March, the Shakopee Public Schools reported 114 newly confirmed cases among students — that's up from 67 confirmed student cases in February.

Last month's student caseload represents more than a quarter of the cumulative cases counted since September among both district students and staff.

Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools reports 154 students currently in quarantine as of April 1 after 11 cases were confirmed among students during the prior week. 

To curb variant spread, MDH is recommending all school-age youth and their families be tested for COVID-19 every two weeks through the end of the school year. Youth involved in any extracurricular actives or sports should be tested weekly, guidance states.

Vaccination efforts 

Over 42% of Minnesotans age 16 and over have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, MDH reported Wednesday. 

Roughly 1.22 million eligible Minnesotans, or 28%, have completed the vaccination series. 

In Scott County, over 42,000 residents, or roughly 39%, have received at least one vaccine dose and roughly 23%, have completed the two-dose series. 

In Carver County, roughly 41% of residents have at least one dose and roughly 25% have completed the series. 


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Dan Patch Days won't return until 2022

Savage’s largest annual festival, Dan Patch Days, is canceled again this year due to uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

The celebration was scheduled to take place June 24-27 in Savage Community Park, but organizers officially called-off the festival this week.

Dan Patch Days Inc., a non-profit organization governed by local volunteers, plans the festival each year in partnership with the city of Savage, the Savage Chamber of Commerce and other local partners.

On March 30, the Dan Patch Day’s Inc. Board of Directors voted unanimously to stop planning this year’s festival and focus instead on making a strong return in 2022.

Savage resident Barry Stock, the board’s secretary and a volunteer with the organization for more than 20 years, said Minnesota’s ongoing pandemic restrictions brought too much uncertainty to continue moving plans forward.

Guidelines surrounding social distancing were particularly concerning for festival organizers.

“With those current restrictions in place — impossible,” Stock said.

Two bands, Hairball and the Dweebs, had been booked for 2020 and again in 2021.

Organizers say they are currently working to rebook entertainment acts for 2022.

Future of the festival

Savage residents have celebrated the history of racehorse Dan Patch with the festival since the 1950s.

Events usually include a wine tasting, pancake breakfast at the fire station, a horseshoe hunt, a parade in downtown Savage and a weekend of live music, food and fireworks.

While many festivals are planning to continue this summer, organizers of Dan Patch Days said they were concerned about having one of the first events on the summer calendar.

The governor’s restrictions may change before the end of June, but the time had come for Dan Patch Days organizers to begin spending operating dollars on the festival’s insurance and licenses — dollars that would be lost if the event needed to be canceled.

That’s too much of a risk, Stock said.

So rather than roll the dice, the organization’s current reserves will be saved to power the celebration in 2022 and ensure the festival’s return after the pandemic.

Beyond the pandemic, Stock said the future of Dan Patch Days rests on community support and connecting with more volunteers.

“We need more people to volunteer to either serve on the Board, or to help out with the celebration,” he said. “It’s a fun organization to be involved with.”

The board meets once a month throughout the year to plan the event.

Stock said he hopes 2022 will help replenish the organization’s reserves and build up a strong future for the event — however, he thinks new ideas and new faces will play a critical role in making that happen.


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