MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) –– As Minnesota sports teams gradually welcome more fans back to their stands, WCCO found the state isn’t keeping a close eye on COVID-19 transmission inside.

From Allianz to Target Field and the Xcel Energy Center, there are still questions surrounding our largest crowds yet. But the health department says the needle in the haystack is getting harder to find.

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As the Twins prepared to play against Texas Monday, Target Field is again allowing about a quarter of the stadium’s capacity (or 10,000 fans) to watch. In all of April, 30 COVID cases were connected to the venue. Still, saying even that is a bit more complicated now, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

Jeff Hoglund came North Dakota to see Twins baseball in-person, ready he says to move on from pandemic life.

“We need to. It’s been long enough. That’s just my opinion,” Hoglund said. “I feel safe coming to the game. I’ve been vaccinated already.”

When it comes to being one of 10,000 inside, the data reveal it’s rare, so far, to have contact with a COVID case.

“They’re intended to give us a high level overview of what we’re seeing in these large venues,” Minnesota Department of Health Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said.

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Ehresmann is cautious in interpreting what health department has found so far. In addition to 30 cases at Target Field, four people reported visiting Xcel Energy Center in their infectious period, and just two at Target Center.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean that was where they acquired the illness, but just that they reported that as a venue they attended,” Ehresmann said.

The state says mitigation strategies are also a plus.

“The other thing is just that we’re seeing a greater proportion of our population vaccinated and that really helps as well,” Ehresmann said.

Still, manpower may something to do with the results. The MDH admits they don’t have the resources to do the same kind of interviewing and investigating on such a large scale as higher-risk environments are first in line.

The Health Department expects larger numbers in May connected to certain sports venues. Since most were not open until the first week in April, it could still take a couple of more weeks to catch up.

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Liz Collin