The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is confirming a total of five coronavirus cases as of March 11, with the third announced case in critical condition.
Officials say the third patient, a resident of Anoka County in their 30s, is believed to have been exposed through contact with international travelers. That person is hospitalized in critical condition and presented no apparent underlying health conditions, MDH says. The case is considered presumptive, as MDH is awaiting confirmation from the CDC.
The MDH says the patient developed symptoms Feb. 28 and sought health care on March 3 but was evaluated and released, saying that their release was "appropriate" at the time. The patient then sought medical attention again on March 9. The state laboratory found the test positive on Tuesday. MDH is working with Anoka County Public Health to identify anyone who might have come in contact with the person. Those people will be asked to quarantine themselves for 14 days and will be monitored for symptoms.
MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said that a critical case in someone who's not considered high-risk is an "outlier."
"We recognize that we will see cases in all ages and it is possible to see severe cases in all ages," she said. "So I don’t have a nice answer that will put that neatly in a package but I think it’s important for people to recognize that our recommendations for staying home when you’re sick and things like that those are not just for people in the high risk group."
The Anoka County individual represents one of five coronavirus cases announced by MDH to date. The first was a passenger on the Grand Princess cruise ship, who got off the ship before it was quarantined. The MDH said that person began experiencing symptoms Feb. 25 and sought medical care March 5. There were “no community exposures of concern” from that case, according to health officials.
The second case was also travel related and involved a resident of Carver County in their 50s who was likely exposed while traveling in Europe in February, MDH said.
The first and second patient in Minnesota have self-isolated at home after treatment.
MDH announced Wednesday that a fourth and fifth case have been confirmed, and they both appear related to international travel. One is an Olmsted County resident in their 50s, who began to experience symptoms March 5 and sought care and testing March 9. That person was symptomatic for a time while at work, and MDH says they will work with the workplace.
The fifth case is a person in their 30s in Ramsey County, and there were no community contacts, according to MDH. That person experienced symptoms March 6, and sought care on March 10.
Wisconsin also saw its second and third cases on Monday and Tuesday. Two of the state’s three cases are in Dane County, and one is in Pierce County. The two new cases are both travel-related and state health officials say the patients are isolated at home.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed a bill on Tuesday to set aside nearly $21 million in funding for the state’s coronavirus response.
Walz said that this bill will allow those funds to go directly to MDH "with the assumption that there will more than likely, and probably, be more cases start to come up very quickly. This has been the pattern elsewhere."
MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the action from the state government was quick and will help them get "ahead of the curve."
"We've, as you know, been ramping up testing in our laboratory, testing more and more submitted samples each day," she said. "As we expand the testing we frankly do expect to find more cases."
Malcolm said the single most important thing Minnesotans can do right now is stay home when they are sick. Health officials are also asking people to cover their coughs and sneezes with their elbow or tissue, wash their hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, and avoid touching their faces.
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 the Midwest 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.