CHANHASSEN, Minn. — The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) says the number of COVID-19 cases jumped again in Carver County, particularly among youth sports.
Health officials are now urging student athletes to get tested even more and they have set up a new, temporary testing site at the Chanhassen Recreation Center.
"We are seeing an increase in cases statewide among youth and that’s why we’re concerned about this variant," said Dan Huff, Assistant Commissioner for Health Protection at the Minnesota Department of Health.
Last week MDH had connected 68 cases linked to school-sponsored and club sports activities, including hockey, wrestling, basketball.
On Thursday, Huff said there are 119 cases now, including the more contagious variant from the United Kingdom.
"In the UK, when this variant really took off, they had to close their schools. In Europe where it then spread, they closed schools," said Huff. "We don’t want to do that here."
On Monday, MDH recommended school and club teams pause play across the county for two weeks. That decision ended Chanhassen High Schooler Zoe Thoma's swim season.
"It's a little frustrating to not have much control over it and to not have an opportunity to meet our goals," said Thoma who's a junior. "It’s very important that we stay safe and we get over the hurdle to get to the end of all this," she said.
MDH wants student athletes to now get tested once a week and for people to limit social interactions three days before a game, as some sports are nearing post-season play.
MDH says an epidemiological investigation confirmed the Carver County cases are connected, unlike cases in other counties that are more random.
"What's unique here is we also did the genetic fingerprinting, if you will, of these cases and we found they all match," explained Huff. "So it's really conclusive that this is all of the same outbreak."
Huff says there's an increase in cases among youth statewide.
"We can see how it has spread from one sport to other sports, from one family to another family, from one school to another school and it’s because we’re a community; it’s good to be a community, but the virus takes advantage of that," said Huff.
He hopes Thursday's show of support at the new testing site from city leaders to coaches will encourage people to help stop the spread, especially as the vaccine starts to provide a light at the end of the tunnel.
"Minnesota knows better than anything else what it's like to lose a game in the 4th quarter, let's not let that happen here," said Huff, who got a few laughs from the crowd.
MDH also said everyone who wants to be vaccinated should be able to get a shot by mid-May.
Testing site location:
Chanhassen Recreation Center
2310 Coulter Blvd.
Chanhassen, MN 55317
Hours of operation:
Thursday, March 11, 2 – 8 p.m.
Friday, March 12, noon – 6 p.m.
Saturday, March 13, noon – 6 p.m.
Thursday, March 18, 2 – 8 p.m.
Friday, March 19, noon – 6 p.m.
Saturday, March 20, noon – 6 p.m.