COVID graph

by Joni Astrup

Associate Editor

COVID-19 cases are surging in Minnesota and close to home.

“Minnesota is kind of in the hot seat with the number of cases ... and we are no different here in Sherburne,” Nicole Ruhoff told the Sherburne County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday. Ruhoff is the public health manager at Sherburne County Health and Human Services.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that Minnesota has the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the nation, the Pioneer Press reported Tuesday.

In Sherburne County, the number of cases hit 1,637 in October and as of Nov. 8 was at 618. Ruhoff said it’s not unlike this time a year ago, as the number of cases continues to rise.

Cumulatively, the highest number of cases locally is among the 30-to-39-year-old age group, followed by 6-to-19-year-olds and 40-to-49-year-olds.

There have been nearly 17,000 COVID-19 cases among Sherburne County residents since the start of the pandemic and more than 700 cases hospitalized.

The death rate in Sherburne County from COVID-19 continues to be lower than in some areas, Ruhoff said. There have been 118 deaths, with 109 of those unvaccinated and nine vaccinated.

Ruhoff said vaccinations are waning for a lot of people and the booster doses are important.

She said good gains have been made in vaccinations in Sherburne County, but at 52% of people with at least one vaccine dose, Sherburne still lags behind the state, which stands at 68%.

Elk River (or specifically the 55330 ZIP code) leads the county in vaccination rates, with 73% having received at least one dose. That’s followed by Clear Lake (55319) at 62% and Big Lake (55309) at 61%. Becker (55308) has the lowest rate at 53%. Zimmerman (55398) is at 55%.

Commissioner Tim Dolan wondered if Elk River’s higher vaccination rate is because of the number of people who work in the Twin Cities and are facing vaccine mandates from their employers.

Vaccines are available through public health and many other providers; go to for more information. Some incentives are still available.

For people who have had the vaccine but lost their vaccination card, the Docket App offers people access to their immunization record through a smartphone or device.

Meanwhile, the positivity rate in Sherburne County stands at about 14%, compared to 10% for the state as a whole.

“We continue to see a lot of positive tests around here, but that also lets us know that we’re also testing at a good rate,” Ruhoff said. “We’re still doing a lot of tests, we’re finding a lot of the virus and hopefully isolating those cases when we can.”

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