Northwest Suburbs at Epicenter of Minnesota COVID-19 Cases
Hennepin County has the Highest Number of COVID-19 Cases in the State
According to data from the Minnesota Department of Health, there are more than 18,000 positive cases in the state’s most populated county. But according to a Star Tribune analysis of ZIP codes and case data, parts of Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, New Hope, and Crystal have among the highest COVID-19 case rates in the metro. These cities also have populations with at least 45 percent of people of color, which is in line with a disturbing national trend.
In April, CCX News spoke with Crystal resident Felicia Parker, who was diagnosed with COVID-19. Parker, who is Black, thought she was having an asthma attack.
“I was pretty much down for the count. I was feeling sick, body aches, really really running nose, like a faucet. I had a sore throat, itchy eyes, just weakness, and rapid, rapid breathing,” she explained.
Brooklyn Park Stepping Up COVID-19 Prevention Measures
Local cities like Brooklyn Park are ramping up testing in underserved populations to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“Many of the patients in this community, in particular, are essential workers. So, they don’t have the luxury of working from home,” said Dr. Mary Erickson, an internal medicine physician at the Hennepin Healthcare-Brooklyn Park clinic.
The clinic set up a testing facility about 15 weeks ago to make it easier for people to get tested.
“We’ve tested over 3,000 people and we’ve had over 600 positive tests,” said Dr. Erickson.
Brooklyn Park city officials are also increasing testing. On Monday, the city hosted a pop-up COVID-19 testing event. Brooklyn Park teamed up with the state, county and the nonprofit Parents in Community Action to make it happen.
“We had over 1,100 people get tested for COVID-19,” said T. John Cunningham, Brooklyn Park fire chief and emergency management director.
Community Engagement Key to Spread Awareness
Brooklyn Park is also using community engagement groups to help spread awareness among immigrant groups.
“We rely heavily on our community leaders. Either in a formal or informal capacity to help us cover those messages,” said Cunningham.
The state also provided Brooklyn Park with thousands of masks recently. It was part of a statewide initiative to support businesses. The city ended up distributing more than 12,000 masks.
Local health officials recommend people follow the Centers for Disease Control guidelines: wear a mask, wash your hands and practice social distancing.