Jun. 15—MANKATO — Area counties had a 17th straight day with new COVID-19 case counts in the single digits Tuesday.
The only new case in the nine-county region was in Nicollet County, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. May 28 was the last time the region had more than 10 new cases.
Case levels are now at their lowest point since April 2020, when the pandemic was in its early stages.
Minnesota had only one new COVID-19 death confirmed Tuesday, which was in Hennepin County. The state's pandemic death toll rose to 7,518.
Regional and statewide test positivity rates offer more encouragement. The most recent data available from June 2-9 showed south-central Minnesota counties had only 1.12% of tests come back positive, compared to 1.04% during the prior week.
Rates below 5% are considered good indicators of spread being under control. South-central Minnesota hasn't been above 5% since the week of April 28-May 5, according to health department data.
The 1.12% rate during the most recent week looks especially good compared to numbers from a year ago. Testing levels were similar last week as they were about one year ago, but the number of positive tests now is far lower.
The week of June 17-24, 2020 — the first week when county-level testing numbers were available — had 3,430 tests and 233 positive cases. That equaled out to a 6.8% positivity rate.
June 2-9, 2021, meanwhile, had 3,668 tests and only 41 positive cases. The 1.12% positivity rate was the second lowest recorded in the region, only behind the previous week's rate.
While case counts keep trending in an encouraging direction, vaccine progress is stagnant.
South-central Minnesota has 58.5% of the 16-and-older population with at least one dose as of Tuesday's update, while 55.2% of the same population is fully vaccinated.
Both measures trail the statewide percentages. Minnesota has 65.8% of its 16-and-older population with at least one dose and 61.3% fully vaccinated.
Follow Brian Arola @BrianArola