Officials Say The 89 Lab-Confirmed Cases Is Just The Tip Of The Iceberg

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Health officials announced Thursday that the number of positive coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Minnesota has climbed to 89, up from 77 on Wednesday.

The cases continue to cluster in the heart of the Twin Cities metro, according to a map released by the Minnesota Department of Health. Hennepin County alone has 33 cases, and nearly all of its surrounding counties have at least one case confirmed.

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As of Thursday, the number of people tested in the health department’s Public Health Lab is at 3,038.

Four of the 89 cases are currently in the hospital being treated for the virus.

MDH officials continue to stress that the 89 cases reflect only lab-confirmed cases. It is believed that the 89 cases is just the tip of the iceberg and that the virus is circulating in communities, which is why social distancing is being encouraged.

Meanwhile, Gov. Tim Walz said Wednesday that due to a shortage of test kits in the state, there is a backlog of 1,700 samples frozen and waiting for results. 

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While expressing frustration over the federal response to the outbreak, the governor told reporters that he personally called Vice President Mike Pence to talk about the state’s shortage. Pence is leading the federal effort against the outbreak.

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“We’ve had to freeze 1,700 samples. We can’t test them,” Walz said. “Those are people that needed to be tested.”

MDH officials say they are working through those samples and hope to have them tested within the next few days.

In Minnesota, the COVID-19 outbreak has led to the closure of schools, restaurants, salons, the Mall of America, and even the northern border with Canada.

For most who come down with the virus, symptoms are mild. However, the disease can be deadly to the elderly and those with compromised respiratory systems.

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Health officials say that healthy individuals who begin showing symptoms should self-quarantine and not seek a test, due to the shortage. At risk individuals showing symptoms are advised to call their health care provider.