MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The face behind Minnesota’s COVID-19 numbers are diverse. They are wide range ages, races, ethnicities, counties and routes of transmission.

“There really isn’t a typical COVID case,” said Kris Ehresmann, director of infectious diseases at the Minnesota Department of Health.

During its case investigations, the state interview almost everyone who tests positive. It then collects that data and makes it public in a dashboard on its COVID-19 website.

Of the 17,029 positive cases, 242 have been under the age of six and 2,471 have been 70 or older. The 30-39 age group makes up the largest contingent at 20%, even though it’s only 14% of the state’s population.

Slightly more of the confirmed cases are women (51%) compared to men (49%).

Hennepin County has had almost 1/3 of the confirmed cases, even though it makes up 22% of the state’s population. It’s followed by Stearns, Ramsey and Nobles counties. Only Cook, Hubbard, Lake of the Woods and Stevens counties have no cases, but state health officials believe the virus is there.

Ehresmann said this data doesn’t truly represent the full breakdown of cases in Minnesota. In fact, modelers from the Minnesota Department of Health and the University of Minnesota believe the testing is capturing 5% of the cases in Minnesota.

“We haven’t done widespread population testing at this point,” said Ehresmann. “We’ve been testing in areas where we know there have been clusters.”

Minnesota has tested about 3% of its population. At first, the testing focusing was on travel. Now, there’s still an emphasis on healthcare workers, nursing homes and plants, even though anyone with symptoms can get tested.

“We know the people who are working in manufacturing and some of the more essential workforce jobs in long-term care are more likely to be communities of color,” Ehresmann said.

On its dashboard, the state is reporting the race of almost ¾ of confirmed cases. Black Minnesotans make up 7% of the state’s population, but 22% of confirmed cases. Hispanic Minnesotans are 5% of the state’s population, but 15% of confirmed COVID cases. Whites are 84% of the state’s population, but 34% of cases. Asians are 5% of the state’s population, but 4% of Minnesota’s COVID cases.

As for transmission, 1/3 of cases report picking up the virus from the community, but half of those cases aren’t exactly sure where. After that, congregate living (22%), healthcare staff (5%) and travel (4%) are the sources. As for the other 36%, the state just doesn’t know how the virus was transmitted.

Heather Brown

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