The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Minnesota was announced on March 6 – three months after China told the world that patients in Wuhan were suffering from pneumonia for an unknown reason.
The first case was that of an old Remy County resident who was separated from the COVID-stricken Grand Princess cruise ship. By the following week, a Carver County resident who was in Europe was confirmed to have the virus. So was an Anoka County resident who was traveling for work.
All three cases were in the Twin Cities metro area, the first to be hit by the virus. Soon, coronovirus activity in medium-sized cities, as well as some rural parts of the state, particularly those with food processing outbreaks, began to be seen. But even months after the virus was first detected in the state, some rural parts of the state still have a low number of officially confirmed cases of the virus.
This has begun to change in recent weeks. Now some Greater Minnesota counties that had previously confirmed coronovirus activity have seen an increase in cases. And like last weekend, every county in Minnesota has at least one case of COVID-19, with one confirmed case in Lake of the Woods County.
The novel Coronavirus first appeared in large cities in the United States, with a major outbreak in New York City in April. In Minnesota, Hennepin and Ramsey counties were the earliest centers of the outbreak.
Carrie Henning-Smith, an assistant professor at the Minnesota School of Public Health, said that this could give some parts of rural America a false sense of security about the virus.
“We know that COVID began as a distinct urban phenomenon in the US. We were first hearing about it in Seattle and New York and New Orleans, ”she said.
“[Since] It took a long time to spread to some rural communities, I think a false sense of security has increased. I think people looked around and said that I’m not sick, none of my neighbors got sick … Let’s go ahead and get back to life as usual, “Henning-Smith said .
It is possible that some areas are undergoing changes. Mahenomen County in northern Minnesota saw new cases per capita between the second and third week of July, from 5.4 cases to 10.9 per 10,000 residents – the same number of cases per capita according to Hennepin County. In Couchiching County, bordering Canada, new cases went from 10.3 per 10,000 people in the fourth week of July to 15 to 10,000 people per 10,000 people in the following week.
County Public Health Director Cynthia Borgen said that cases of young people and a high level of community broadcasting in general have increased the level of concern among members of Bemidji’s home in Clustermee County.
According to data from the Minnesota Department of Health, the county saw some coronovirus activity before July, but actually saw an increase – from 3.3 new cases per month to 3.3 residents per month to 11.1 per 10,000 residents. In the most recent week of data, the number of newly confirmed cases had slowed down slightly to 9.5 per 10,000 residents.
“Our initial boom was a group of 20-year-olds,” Borgen said. “Once the ban was issued and people were out in bars, sporting events, entertainment leagues, this was the beginning for us.”
Borgen said there were few before this when he was hospitalized some time ago. As of this week, four people with COVID-19 in Beltrami County were hospitalized.
Borg said, “So far, I think people think ‘If I’m sick, I won’t get very sick.”
“In some hospitals we were among those who were quite young and healthy and this is a small community, people who learn very quickly in the hospital, even though we are trying to prevent someone from coming through formal channels. Let’s do our best., “She said.
Although some people in the community may not have seen COVID-19 locally as a major problem before, “people are realizing that this is probably something that could affect me and my loved ones,” Borgen said.
Before an outbreak of COVID-19 was observed last month in Wotawan County, south central Minnesota, Community Health Services Manager Julia Whitcomb expressed some confidence in the community that the virus was not a concern in the area.
“We saw some of those beliefs … thinking that it’s not here, so why do I need a mask or why do I need to follow the social distinction,” she said.
Concern rises as matters mount, but Whitcomb says some resumed luxe mask-wearing behavior before the statewide mask order came into force on Saturday.
While geography is one factor that sets aside some of the state’s greater Minnesota residents’ feelings about the virus, it is not the only factor. The epidemic – and the state’s handling of it – has also become highly political, with those on the right of the political spectrum tending to reduce the severity of the virus and the utility of interventions such as face masks, while those on the left believe it. other way round.
Ahead of public discussion of a local facade mandate in Alexandria, which was decided before the government. In this week, city officials said 286 people in the city approached the council in favor of a citywide facade mandate, while 463 people told the council they opposed such requirements.
Many who opposed the local masked mandate counted the lesser case as an argument.
“This is not necessary because there are very few cases in our city. I think it will create tension among the people, ”wrote one who opposed a possible local mandate.
But politics also came into vogue.
An employee of a senior center living in the city, opposing the masked mandate on political grounds, wrote using his work email address: “This epidemic has become more political than anything as it presents rules / regulations to Americans This great country was built forcing those who do not support the Constitution. “
But as cases again mount on national and public health officials – initially often opposed to masks based on a limited supply of medical-grade ones – come to a consensus that they are effective in slowing the spread of the virus That can change, too.
In a Harvard / Harris poll released this week, 79 percent of respondents said they supported a national mask mandate. A Fox poll of Minnesota residents released this month found 85 percent of respondents strongly or somewhat favored for Minnesotans who wore face masks.
Home County Matters Matters
Especially in summer, Greater Minnesota hosts tourists from across the state and country. Some residents worry about what this means when it comes to the accuracy of the case in their areas.
JN Sumoshan lives in Longville, Minnesota, home to a large summer tourist destination in Cass County, the women’s chain of lakes, where 54 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to MDH data from 12 a month ago Have come
Last week, he presented a question to local radio station KAXE during a discussion with the lieutenant government. Peggy Flanagan expressed concern about how the case number is reported.
“In rural Minnesota we have experienced an increase in cases as we have seen an increase in city audiences as well as fishing openers and the fourth quarter of the July weekend,” he wrote.
If she was a twin city or out-of-state resident who had been traveling the lake country for generations, she said she would look at the state’s case map and might be likely to think “Oh wow, Cass County, Very consistently low, low risk. Let’s do it, “she told MinnPost.
But she says the map is not an accurate reflection of all those in Cass County: if people travel north and get sick, whether they have been tested in Cass County or returned home, they will result in their home. Is associated with the county.
Sumotion told MinnPost that in a trip to the city this week, he saw cars going on Highway 84, which dragged through the city of 150.
“I would say there were at least 20 to 25 cars from where I could see their tags, and half were out of state,” she said.
He is concerned that these travelers may see lower numbers in Cass County and let their guards down when they travel, assuming the community does not have the virus.
“I think it’s a very wrong sense of security because the number doesn’t really represent the number of people who are actually infected here,” she said.
Walker Orenstein contributed to this report.