MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There is now one confirmed presumptive case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state of Minnesota.
The person in the case is an older adult Ramsey County resident who traveled on a cruise ship that had a known COVID-19 case. The person began to develop symptoms on Feb. 25, the state confirmed.
The patient was said to be in isolation at home and recovering. The Minnesota Department of Health said they were still awaiting confirmation from the CDC, but that “health officials consider the presumptive results actionable.”
Gov. Tim Walz is schedule to brief the media on the case at 4 p.m. Friday. CBSN Minnesota will carry that press conference live.
“The State of Minnesota has been working around the clock to prepare for this and I am confident that our Department of Health is up to the challenge,” Walz said.
Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said that they’ve been anticipating the first case of coronavirus in Minnesota, and used the announcement as a reminder for Minnesotans to do all they can to help slow the spread of the illness.
“It is critical that all of us do our part to slow the spread of this virus by covering coughs, washing hands, and staying home when sick with cold or flu-like symptoms. We also need to prepare for community mitigation measures like telework arrangements and temporary school closures should they become necessary,” Malcolm said.
The strain has already shown up in at least 20 states nationwide. As of noon Friday, there were at least 230 confirmed cases.
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Earlier Friday, the state health department reported that they had performed 36 tests on Minnesotans that had all come back negative for COVID-19.
Also on Friday, Health and education departments are asking school leaders to make sure they’ve made arrangements for the virus. That means routine cleaning, creating a communication plan for staff and students, and be ready for emergency operation plan.
On Wednesday, Minnesota lawmakers held their first public hearing on COVID-19. The hearing focused on the initial cost and the possible scope of an outbreak in Minnesota. The initial ask from the Minnesota Department of Health is an immediate $40 million from taxpayers, but it was clear that is just the beginning — and the number of cases they were potentially talking about numbered in the thousands.
State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm says the state is getting ready for a potential mass outbreak.
“When we get to the point … when we’re seeing hundreds or thousands of cases across the state, then frankly, we are in a resource management situation, where the job is really to make sure that the resources get to the people who most need them,” Malcolm said.
While the state investigates this first case, Dr. Mark Sannes, an infectious disease physician at Park Nicollet, says there are several simple things Minnesotans can do to stay safe.
“I think people need to carry on and do the things you do to control, what you can control,” Sannes said. “Wash your hands, cover your cough, stay home if you’re sick.”
Dr. Sannes says only some people are at risk of having a severe reaction to COVID-19.
“Those people with pre-existing heart disease, lung disease, those who have diabetes and high blood pressure,” Sannes said.
If you fall under this category, Dr. Sannes says there is one important change you can make right now as a precaution.
“I think the avoidance of the large crowds is really the guidance that is coming from the CDC [right now],” he said.
On the federal level, the United States House of Representatives allocated $8 billion Wednesday for the virus. President Trump signed the bill.