Social Gatherings Drive COVID-19 Transmission Rates to Record Levels in Minnesota

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Current Status

COVID-19 transmission rates in Hennepin and Ramsey county have moved into the high (orange) range of 30 or more cases/10,000 over 14 days. The growth of cases is not just a regional issue: Recent Minnesota Department of Health numbers show outbreaks across the state and a record-high daily case rate this week.

The 14-day on-campus case rate at Augsburg has remained fairly stable at between 10 and 15 cases throughout the month of October. (Note: the October 31 COVID-19 Dashboard reported eight on-campus student cases for the 14 days ending October 31, but two additional cases were confirmed after the dashboard was published.) We also have already seen a cluster of confirmed cases resulting from social gatherings over the Halloween weekend.

Recommended Action

The low level of transmission among the campus community will be a challenge to maintain given the high levels of positivity in the general population. According to State of Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm, what’s driving the high rate of community spread in Minnesota are not large crowds and events but small social gatherings — a happy hour, a brunch, or a few friends just hanging out without masks and social distancing.

This high virus transmission scenario is important to keep in mind as you plan for the upcoming Thanksgiving break. If you are traveling to other areas of the state or country, it might be useful to look up the case rate for your destination location and take appropriate precautions. The 91-divoc data visualization tool provides 7-day case rates per 100,000 population by county across the United States.

Of course, the more your plans allow for wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, the more you will reduce your risk of transmitting or getting COVID-19. The Minnesota Department of Health has provided guidelines to help plan for a safe Thanksgiving holiday.