This story was previously published on Wednesday, Sept. 23

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For ninth grader Michael Barry, it was as simple as playing a video game with a friend this summer that led to his positive COVID-19 results on Aug. 6.

“A week after that I started getting a sore throat and some symptoms,” Barry said. “I got really tired, super tired during the day, little bit of a headache when I would get up and stuff.”

His symptoms were fairly mild, and over in about a week. Despite Barry’s relegation to the basement, the rest of his family eventually got sick, albeit with minor symptoms.

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But with school now back in session, and sports getting the green light, it’s the young people the Minnesota Department of Health worries most about for the ripple effect it could cause. Kris Ehresmann is the department’s infectious disease director.

“We’re very concerned with the level of transmission we’re seeing. It won’t be too much longer until we have difficult decisions to make,” Ehresmann said.

Since the start of fall term at Minnesota state colleges, 670 students and 49 campus employees have tested positive.

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A broader look at some of the biggest universities show the most cases at Winona State University, Minnesota State University, Mankato and the University of Minnesota.

The highest number of positive cases are among those 20 to 24 in the state. One death in that age range has been reported, while 38 ICU hospitalizations have been among those age 10 to 19.

The real worry is younger people passing the virus to an older and more-vulnerable population.

MDH continues to remind people of a layered protection plan from masks, to social distancing and avoiding crowds.

Health officials are also working with schools to decide which learning model is best by monitoring the number of students and staff who test positive, and the percentage of both who could be out of school due to any exposure to COVID-19.

The New York Times created a list of metro areas dealing with the most new cases of COVID-19 based on population. No Minnesota cities rank in the top 20, but five are in Wisconsin. La Crosse ranks number one on their list, right on the Minnesota border.

The newspaper also listed areas where cases are rising the fastest. Winona ranks 11th on that list, and six Wisconsin areas are also included.

READ MORE: Wisconsin College Campuses See Most Concerning COVID Spike Among Young Adult Population

Liz Collin