WDIO-TV Video Report: First case of COVID-19 confirmed in St. Louis County
Mar 22, 2020 06:50AM
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By Emily Ness from WDIO-TV - March 22, 2020
Minnesota health officials have confirmed the first presumptive case of the new coronavirus in St. Louis County.
The county said the individual is a woman in her late 60's who is currently recovering at home. Her infection is linked to domestic travel, and not the result of community transmission.
Officials did not say where in the county the woman lives.
“At this point, there has been no request for the county to provide any essential services," said Amy Westbrook, St. Louis County Public Health Division Director, in a news release. "It is believed she has had no contact with anyone outside her family. Close contacts have been asked to quarantine themselves for 14 days from their exposure date and will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms."
Currently, health officials say the amount of people that are able to be tested is limited.
“The priority groups include health care workers, individuals living in congregate care settings and individuals who are hospitalized,” Westbrook said.
Health officials say they want to be thoughtful about who they test so that they don't run out of tests and so that they don't use up return time it takes to get them back.
“Especially in Northern Minnesota, we have the swabs, we have the kits, we don't have the reagents—again the material that is needed to do the test at the testing site whether it’s at the state lab or the Mayo Clinic or quest labs,” Dr. Nicholas Van Deelen of St. Lukes said. “The turnaround time is days. Anywhere from two to five days.”
Meanwhile, hospitals in the region are working together to prepare for a potential outbreak.
“We know that in a couple weeks, there is the potential that we will be busier than we’ve ever been. I say maybe—again, we’re doing everything we can to manage that,” Van Deelen said.
The county says that one of the most important things the public can do to protect themselves and diminish the spread in the community is maintaining good hygiene, as well as, cleaning both home and work spaces. Additionally, people should keep a six foot distance between one another and avoid gatherings of ten or more.
Cases of COVID-19 have also been confirmed in Douglas and Bayfield counties in Wisconsin.
St. Louis County is posting resources and updates on its response at stlouiscountymn.gov/covid19.
The Minnesota Department of Health said Saturday that there are now 138 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state. They also reported the state's first death from the disease, a woman in her 80s from Ramsey County who died on Thursday