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Minnesota confirms first case of COVID-19 virus

Mar 06, 2020 04:07PM ● By Editor
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz at a news conference discussing the state's first COVID-19 case.  Photo: MPR

From Minnesota Public Radio News - March 6, 2020

The Minnesota Department of Health says an older adult resident of Ramsey County who recently traveled on a cruise ship with a known COVID-19 case is Minnesota’s first confirmed presumptive case of the coronavirus.

The patient is “currently in isolation at home and is recovering,” the Minnesota Department of Health said late Friday afternoon

“I'm confident Minnesota is prepared for this,” Gov. Tim Walz told reporters Friday afternoon. “The state of Minnesota is taking this very seriously and has been for weeks.”

Health officials say the Ramsey County patient began to develop symptoms on Feb. 25 and sought health care Thursday. Samples were collected from the person and sent to the state Health Department laboratory. The confirmation came at about 12:40 p.m.

The agency is awaiting confirmatory testing from the Centers for Disease Control, but health officials consider the “presumptive results actionable.”

Speaking to reporters Friday afternoon, Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm noted that the Ramsey County illness was a travel-related case and not one of unknown exposure from the community.

The department said it was working to identify and reach out to all those who may have come in contact with the infected person and will ask them to quarantine themselves for 14 days from their exposure; they will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms.

Asked if she expected Minnesota cases to jump now, Malcolm said that’s what authorities hope to prevent, and she noted that Wisconsin has had only one confirmed case for weeks. “Our whole goal here is to work aggressively … to contain the spread of the disease,” she told reporters.

If COVID-19 begins to spread in Minnesota, “state and local public health authorities would consider community interventions such as temporary closures of child care facilities and schools,” the Health Department said in a statement.

Anticipating the arrival of COVID-19, the state Health Department had already requested $25 million in state funding to deal with a coronavirus outbreak even before Friday’s announcement.

On Thursday, Deputy Health Commissioner Margaret Kelly said she expected to shift agency staff to deal with the outbreak for some time.

"We will average about 100 people in redeployment for the length of the outbreak,” she said, estimating the duration to be a year. 

Since the outbreak started in China in December, more than 100,000 cases and 3,400 deaths have been reported in more than 80 countries. That total includes 233 U.S. cases and 14 deaths as of Friday morning, the Health Department said.

Walz, Malcolm and other officials continued to emphasize that the best way Minnesotans can help stop the spread of COVID-19 or any respiratory virus is to cover your cough, wash your hands often and stay home if you feel sick.

To read the original article and read more on this breaking news story, follow this lin k to the MR News website.

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