Rice County Public Health Director ‘We Need to Work Together’
Rice County Public Health Department Director Deb Purfeerst presented another COVID-19 update for the Board of Commissioners meeting as a Committee of the Whole. At the conclusion of her presentation Purfeerst bluntly stated, "People are dying so we just need everybody to work together."
Purfeerst told commissioners Rice County is seeing, "Large numbers of additional cases every day." She pointed to the past weekend when Rice County had 401 new cases from Friday through Monday. That's of the 2891 total as of this morning. 63 more cases were reported in the county at the 11 a.m. Minnesota Department of Health update.
Purfeerst went over a slide presentation that showed a large number of cases that have not had the location (residence, nursing home, etc...) identified, "We do see a pretty significant number there of unknown, blank or other because of the rapidly rising number of cases. There's a regional system of case investigation and contact tracing. That is getting backlogged trying to keep up with the large number of cases."
"There's a thousand of our (Rice County) cases where either they haven't been interviewed yet, they've refused to be interviewed or just unknown information," Purfeerst added.
The Rice County Public Health Department Director says the average lab test rate in the state is 5,779 tests per 10,000 people and Rice County on November 12th was shoing 8,484 tests per 10,000 people. "We actually have the highest test rate now in the state of Minnesota. I do think it's related to some special groups of testing that have been completed. We have some college campuses, prison campuses that are doing ongoing testing too. So that is probably the driver of this number."
Concerning the positive rate Purfeerst pointed out, "Typically if you're above a five percent positivity rate you're not in control of the spread. It's just widespread community transmission." The number for Rice County was below the state average but was still 7.3 percent.
Purfeerst told the County Board of Commissioners in her mind the most telling statistic to show the increase in cases in the county is the 14 day case rate. In October the number was 22. Last Thursday the number was 100.21.
"Jumping from 22 to 100 is a pretty big jump and we just posted information yesterday at 136 for the 14 day case rate. That would be October 27th through November 9th. I would anticipate by Thursday it will be greater than 136. We are defintely seeing increased numbers."