Coronavirus testing // MDH 15 (copy)

Scott County’s COVID-19 positivity and case rates continue to rise, and health officials anticipate another surge after Thanksgiving despite statewide strain on the hospital system.

On Tuesday, Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said there’s 1,080 additional COVID-19 patients currently in the hospital when compared to the beginning of the month.

In Shakopee, the intensive care unit at St. Francis Regional Medical Center is full and patients are being diverted elsewhere, Scott County Public Health Director Lisa Brodsky told the Scott County Board of Commissioners Nov. 17.

Brodsky said there’s serious concern about staffing shortages at St. Francis and other hospitals across the state as the COVID-19 crisis enters an “extremely accelerated phase.”

Contact tracing efforts have shown a significant number of cases in Scott County have been connected to bars and restaurants, private social gatherings and late-night outings.

Locally, one bartender is believed to have infected all 13 bar-goers in a single evening, Brodsky said.

The county’s increased positivity rate demonstrates testing is not the only factor driving the county’s increased case-load.

“Four months ago, if 400 people showed up, I was only getting about a 4% positivity rate,” Brodsky said. “Now, when 400 people show up, I’m getting a 25% positivity rate in some cases.”

The county’s weekly positivity rate doubled between the end of September and the end of October. Five community testing sites held between Nov. 1-11 returned positivity rates between 9-25%.

As of Wednesday, Nov. 25 there’ve been 7,748 confirmed cases in Scott County with over 2,700 newly confirmed cases added in the past two weeks. Fifty-four related deaths have been reported locally with 18 occurring this month.

Congregate care facilities continue to battle the impacts of widespread community transmission.

On Nov. 17, Brodsky said 10 local long-term care facilities currently have five or more confirmed cases.

The county’s active case rate continues to steadily rise, and health officials are anticipating an even greater increase after the holidays.

Between Nov. 1-14 Scott County’s case rate stood at just over 151 cases per 10,000 residents.

Distance learning for all students is recommended until the case rate drops below 50 cases per 10,000 residents.

Commissioner John Ulrich said the impacts of the outbreak are also being felt by local cities. In Shakopee, there’s especially concern about the public works staff.

“They don’t know what they are going to do with the next snow storm,” Ulrich said. “They just have no idea how they are going to handle it.”

Despite the challenges, Brodsky said there are also success stories of work places successfully mitigating the risks.

Recently, a local police department identified a case among one of its members, she said. Department-wide testing took place, and all tests returned negative results.