MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - As rural areas in Minnesota experience a surge of COVID-19 cases, state health officials say at least nine of those cases can be linked to a September campaign rally held by President Donald Trump.
Officials in Minnesota are worried about a spike in COVID-19 cases they’re seeing in rural areas and communities that border other states. The state health department has been able to track some of those cases to Trump’s campaign rally in Bemidji.
Health director Kris Ehresmann said there are 12 counties with higher positivity rates than those nearest Minneapolis and St. Paul. The Twin Cities have seen nearly 30,000 cases in Hennepin County and more than 12,000 in Ramsey County.
At least nine recent cases reported attending the Trump rally on Sept. 18, with one case known to have been infectious while at the event. There have been two hospitalizations.
“This is a hard time,” said Dr. George Morris, a physician at CentraCare, a hospital group serving people across central Minnesota.
Morris says an increase in cases not only threatens hospital capacity but also the health of their staff, who are starting to feel the effects of getting sick or taking care of their family members.
“We have the beds. We have the people, but as we get more of these exposures, what’s going to happen to our availability? That’s something to be worried about,” he said.
While it hasn’t yet reached a crisis level, Morris says he’s concerned about how long they can maintain the same pace.
Health officials say wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding crowds are still the key factors that can help slow the spread of the coronavirus.