ST. PAUL -- Two more persons in Minnesota tested positive for coronavirus late Tuesday, according to the Minnesota health officials in a daily coronavirus briefing with reporters Wednesday, bringing the statewide presumptive case count to five.
Both persons are believed to have contracted the virus out of the country, and are recovering at home. At this point all five cases in the state were believed to have contracted the illness outside of the state.
The first of two cases reported on Wednesday is a person in their 50s who lives in Olmsted County, while the second case is a person in their 30s who lives in Ramsey County, according to Minnesota Department of Health Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann.
Olmsted County Director of Public Health Graham Briggs disclosed in a subsequent Rochester news conference that the Olmsted County person lives in Rochester and was seen at Mayo Clinic. Ehresmann said the patient had first onset of symptoms on March 5, and sought care on March 9.
"This person came in, they knew the person was coming, and all the appropriate precautions were taken to avoid risk to staff," Briggs said. He said the person lives alone and was sent home to recover with mild respiratory symptoms.
"If a patient presents at Mayo Clinic with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and they meet Centers for Disease Control (CDC) criteria for further testing and evaluation, the patient would be treated in a safe environment by trained staff," said Mayo spokesperson Ginger Plumbo in a statement. "Specimen samples would be sent to public health for confirmatory testing. If a COVID-19 virus is confirmed, the CDC and public health departments are responsible for public reporting."
"This individual may have been symptomatic while at work," said Ehresmann during the call-in briefing. "So we will be working with the workplace on that situation. Ehresmann said of the size of the Olmsted resident's workplace that: "we're not looking at thousands" of coworkers exposed.
The Ramsey County person is said to be in their 30s, experienced symptom onset on March 6 and sought care March 10. "There are no community contacts, only household contacts," Ehresmann said of the person, "so that is definitely a best-case scenario."
In an update on the state's third case first reported Tuesday, an Anoka County resident in their 30s who was hospitalized in critical condition, Ehresmann said the patient's status is unchanged.
"In every situation there will be outliers," she said of the unusual fact that the patient is in critical condition with the coronavirus despite apparently having had no previous medical condition. "So while we continue to say the highest risk group is older and has underlying health conditions, we recognize we will see cases in all ages and severe cases in all ages."
"Our recommendation for staying home when you're sick, those are not just for individuals in the high risk group," Ehresmann said, "that's for everyone...If Minnesotans stay home when they are sick like we are asking, and I mean stay home, don't just stay home from work but from social interactions also, that will really help to slow down this virus."
Ehresmann reiterated that the state's plan is to gradually shift from a containment into a community mitigation strategy , saying "we want to start leaning forward into this new area. . . to move toward talking about how should people be responding in this next phase."
For now she said older people and people with suppressed immunity or underlying medical conditions should already begin to "avoid large group settings and to practice social distancing by staying six feet away from other people."
Globally, the coronavirus case count now tops 121,000, with 4,369 deaths. In the U.S., 1,039 cases have been identified, with 29 deaths. The Minnesota Department of Health said that it tested 100 samples on Tuesday, received 710 calls on its hotline, website 81,000 visits to its MDH coronavirus webpage. MDH coronavirus hotline: (651) 201-3920.
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