As of Wednesday, Rice County has had 295 lab confirmed cases of COVID-19, ranging in age from 5 months of age through 89 years of age, with a median age of 35.2

That’s an increase of 25 cases since Tuesday. On May 7, Rice County had 55 confirmed cases of the virus.

Eleven of those 295 lab confirmed cases, ranging in age from 31 years old to 80 years old, have required hospitalization. Four of those 11 hospitalized cases have required ICU admission. Rice County has had two COVID-19 related deaths.

Rice County COVID-19 data is updated regularly on the Rice County COVID-19 webpage

Rice County currently has the highest incidence rate in southeast Minnesota, and has had a rapid rate increase in the last two weeks, which appears somewhat artificially inflated related to a recent increase in testing capacity.

Minnesota Department of Health data indicates that the current incidence rate in Rice County is 453 per 100,000. Seven other counties in Minnesota have a higher incidence rate, with the highest incidence rate in Nobles County at 6,534 per 100,000.

While Steele County has a much lower case number and incidence rate — 116 confirmed cases as of Wednesday — about 80 of those cases have been tied to workers at the Owatonna Viracon plant. A company spokesperson Tuesday said it closed the glass manufacturer to do a deep cleaning of the plant and has since been screening employees as they come to work.

Rice County Public Health Director Deb Purfeerst attributes screening at the many Faribault manufacturing facilities for the rise in cases countywide. Those screenings, she said, have identified cases that might not otherwise be confirmed by testing.

Rice County Public Health continues to work with multiple community partners and organizations on mitigation strategies, especially within our diverse populations. Health messaging has been widely disseminated in various languages throughout a number of community locations, including multiple businesses and apartment complexes, to help explain the importance of infection prevention measures and the importance of isolation and quarantine for those who are ill or have been exposed to COVID-19.

Community transmission is occurring throughout Minnesota. Anyone can contract this disease and pass it on to others; everybody needs to do their part to help protect others. For those individuals who have been told by their healthcare provider that they have COVID-19, or for those who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19, it is critical that they remain in isolation or quarantine as advised, which may be up to 14 days, or sometimes longer, according to Purfeerst.

Rice County staff continue to work with local partners and MDH staff on case investigations, contact tracing, business outreach, and essential service requests for individuals in isolation or quarantine.

A Rice County Public Health COVID-19 Helpline number — 507-384-6459 — is available to answer COVID-19 related questions and to help connect residents to local resources during the pandemic.

Information about Rice County community resources can be found at

More information on COVID-19 can be found on the Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites, and

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