Jul. 8—MANKATO — South-central Minnesota had only one newly confirmed COVID-19 case Thursday, although the region's weekly positivity rate did tick up.
The small case increase came after counties combined for 12 new cases Wednesday, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. It was the first time since late May the region had more than 10 new daily cases, but Wednesday's total included multiple days of data due to the Fourth of July holiday.
Le Sueur County had the only newly confirmed case in the region Thursday.
Statewide, Minnesota had two more COVID-19 deaths. The state's pandemic death toll rose to 7,617.
A drop in testing and steady case counts over the last week resulted in the region having a slightly higher positivity rate between June 30-July 7. The rate of tests coming back positive last week was 1.2%, compared to about 0.8% during the prior week.
Rates below 5% are considered encouraging. South-central Minnesota hasn't had a rate at or above 5% since early May.
The latest positivity rate, however, was the region's first increase in a month and the highest rate since late May. It comes during a time when the most contagious COVID-19 variant yet, delta, is getting more of a foothold in parts of the U.S. with higher unvaccinated populations.
South-central Minnesota counties have lower vaccination rates than the state as a whole. The combined rate for first doses remains below 60% in the nine-county region.
While the spreading variant and positivity rate uptick are concerns, cases hardly spiked this week. This week had about the same number of new cases as the previous week, but there were 33% fewer tests, according to health department data.
Lower test levels can lead to jumps in positivity rates if fewer people seek testing out of precaution while more ill people seek tests. So far, the rate has remained relatively low even with drops in testing over the last week.
Minnesota's overall positivity rate also remained within range of its record low despite rising over the last week. It rose from 0.8% to 1.1%, making for the first time since early April that the state had a lower positivity rate than the south-central region.
Area counties ranged in positivity rates from 0% in Watonwan and Sibley counties to 2.8% in Le Sueur County. Blue Earth County's 1.2% rate and Nicollet County's 1.1% rate were similar.
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