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Latest on COVID-19 in Minnesota: 54 confirmed cases, nearly 1,900 tested

Mar 16, 2020 11:58AM ● By Editor
From Minnesota Public Radio News - March 16, 2020

From Minnesota Public Radio News - March 16, 2020

As the numbers of confirmed cases of COVID-19 grows, governments on the city, county and state levels are adjusting their operations to support public health officials’ pleas that people stay home.

Here are the latest developments in Minnesota as of Monday, March 16: 

  • Confirmed cases rising State health officials announced 54 positive coronavirus cases Monday, up from 35 on Sunday. And while 13 counties have reported cases — Anoka, Blue Earth, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Olmsted, Ramsey, Renville, Sherburne, Stearns, Waseca, Washington, Wright — most of them are in Hennepin and Ramsey counties. Nearly 1,900 people have been tested, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. 

  • Community spread Over the weekend, health officials also marked a milestone in the virus’ movement, identifying the state’s first three cases of community transmission

  • State of emergency; schools temporarily closed  Gov. Tim Walz announced announced a temporary closure of K-12 public schools in the state. The governor has also declared a “peacetime emergency” to heighten the state’s readiness to respond to COVID-19, and moved to limit gatherings in Minnesota to fewer than 250 people.

  • Hospital visits limited  Mayo Clinic, Essentia Health and other major hospitals in the state are limiting patients' visitors and temporarily adjusting their visitor policies.

  • Electricity shutoffs postponed  Utilities in the state have announced adjustments to their shutoff policies. Xcel Energy, the largest power company in the state, announced it will not disconnect residential customers’ electric or natural gas service until further notice.

  • Legislature on pause  The Minnesota Legislature is scaling back its operations. Leaders announced Sunday night that they're planning to effectively recess the legislative session for up to a month, coming in only on an as-needed basis to pass legislation related to the coronavirus situation.

  • Cities adjusting Across the state, local governments and public health officials have adjusted their operations.

At a news conference Monday morning, Duluth Mayor Emily Larson said all city buildings will be closed to the public, starting Tuesday. City officials said the government’s key services will continue, with some modifications. 

While all of Minnesota’s 35 confirmed cases are located in the southern half of the state — and none so far in the city of Duluth — city officials, from public safety to transportation to education, said the measures are meant to blunt the impact of the highly contagious disease.

“I think, as always in the history of public safety, when things get tough, we step up,” police chief Mike Tusken said.

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter declared a state of local emergency over the weekend, closing city libraries and recreation facilities, and refusing to issue any new permits for gatherings of 50 or more people. 

Officials continue to emphasize frequent hand-washing, disinfecting of surfaces and social distancing as ways to mitigate the spread of the virus. Many employers across the state are encouraging their staffs to work from home, major events are being canceled and some restaurants are closing or shifting to a delivery and takeout model for the time being.

To read the original article and see related COVID-19 reporting, follow this link to the MPR News website.

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