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MDH: 'No community exposures of concern' from first coronavirus case

State health officials say the person with the first "presumptive" coronavirus case in Minnesota did not have any community exposure of concern.

Minnesota health officials say there were "no community exposures of concern" from the first presumptive case of coronavirus in the state.

The first person in Minnesota to test positive for coronavirus is an older adult from Ramsey County who was on the Grand Princess cruise ship, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. That ship is now quarantined, with approximately 42 Minnesotans aboard, according to Kris Ehresmann, director of infectious disease for MDH.

The state's first case is "presumptive" because the CDC still needs to verify results. The person got off the ship on the first leg, before it was quarantined. They had been traveling in Mexico.

Twenty-five other Minnesotans were among that group, according to Ehresmann. Besides the one positive case, one other symptomatic person tested negative. No one else demonstrated symptoms, and now they are all past the two-week incubation period, Ehresmann said.

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M Health Fairview confirmed that they treated the person who tested positive for coronavirus at one of their facilities. They said the person wore a mask, and staff "followed our standard processes and protocols effectively."

Ehresmann said there was one exposure with a health care worker, but since the worker and patient were wearing masks, "that was considered very low risk."

When they interviewed the patient they found there were "no community exposures of concern."

"What that means is there were no exposures that lasted longer than 10 minutes that were within 6 feet of another person," Ehresmann said. "So there were no community exposures at all, which was wonderful news."

She said the patient, who is over 65 and has an underlying health condition, is "stable and at home and doing well." Ehresmann said their symptoms were fever and upper respiratory-related, but were mild.

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Since the risk of the disease spreading from that person is low, Ehresmann said the state is continuing to prepare for potential other cases.

"Our goal is to slow down the spread of the disease so that it can be managed better," she said.

The MDH would consider "community mitigation measures" such as asking companies to telework and closing schools temporarily, but Ehresmann said that would be if there were hundreds of cases in different settings.

Right now, the only testing for coronavirus in Minnesota is at the MDH lab. Ehresmann said there are commercial labs across the country pursuing the ability to test, as well as Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

The MDH expects to do two more rounds of tests Saturday, and Ehresmann did not have an exact number. She said they will expect some more results Saturday evening, and those will be posted on the MDH website.

In answer to travel concerns, Ehresmann said Minnesotans should follow CDC recommendations when it comes to international travel. For domestic trips, there are no recommendations "at this point" to cancel or change travel plans.

But MDH said individuals with underlying health conditions or who are elderly or fall into the high-risk category for coronavirus should "consider your travel plans carefully."

The MDH has set up a hotline for the public to call and ask their general coronavirus questions. The hotline is open until 8 p.m. on March 6. It will then be open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The hotline number is 651-201-3920.

KARE 11’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit kare11.com/coronavirus for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about Minnesota specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and keep tabs on the cases around the world here. Have a question? Text it to us at 763-797-7215. 

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