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The daily coronavirus update: 19 new Minnesota cases; who should get tested

Three out of Minnesota’s 54 confirmed COVID-19 cases are hospitalized.

Photo: CDC/Alissa Eckert

For the foreseeable future, MinnPost will be providing daily updates on coronavirus in Minnesota, published following the press phone call conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) each afternoon.

Here are the latest updates from March 16, 2020:

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19 new cases, 54 total

Minnesota confirmed 19 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, for a statewide total of 54.

The age range of the new cases are 21 to 71 and the counties where the 19 cases reside with number of new cases announced Monday are:

  • Hennepin (10)
  • Dakota (2)
  • Ramsey (2)
  • Olmsted (1)
  • Washington (1)
  • Blue Earth (1)
  • Anoka (1)
  • Benton (1)

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The Minnesota Department of Health hasn’t completed investigations from all the cases but says the nine out of 19 new cases it has exposure and risk information from have recent histories of foreign or domestic travel.

A reporter on the call asked whether there was any additional information about Blue Earth County’s first case. Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said:

“We’re unable to give specific information about cases because we do have to protect patient confidentiality. I think it’s important for people to realize if there’s a case in your community, it’s very likely we’ll see additional spread.”

Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan
Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann
MDH has said it will give more aggregate information once there are more cases.

Three out of Minnesota’s 54 confirmed COVID-19 cases are hospitalized. One of them, who is not in critical condition, is among the people announced Sunday as having likely picked up the virus through community spread. One Minnesotan remains in critical condition.

Minnesota’s counties with cases now include: Anoka, Benton, Blue Earth, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Olmsted, Ramsey, Renville, Stearns, Waseca, Washington and Wright.

[A note from your friendly neighborhood daily update reporter: These numbers are very likely to go up every day for a while and yes, it is stressful! I’ve been trying to not focus on worrying about that, and focus instead on telling everyone I know to stay home as much as possible to prevent spread so everyone who gets a bad case of COVID-19 doesn’t have to go to the hospital at the same time. Also go outside and get some fresh air if you can. We’re all in this together.]

Who should be tested & staying home when sick

MDH said it’s asking people who are hospitalized and those who work in health care to be prioritized when it comes to COVID-19 testing. Ehresmann said this is because whether or not these people test positive has direct implications for health care.

Moreover, she said there’s no need to be tested if you’re in a situation where you’re managing your symptoms at home.

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Think about it this way: Best to stay home with upper respiratory symptoms and consider seeking care (first consulting with providers over the phone) if your symptoms become so acute you would have sought care before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Again, one of the most critical guidelines is to stay home if you’re sick.

After you’re sick, stay home for three days after your fever has subsided without using fever-reducing medications, Ehresmann said.

“If you had an illness that lasted four days, you could be fever-free for three days and you could be out in the world after seven days,” she said.

Will bars and restaurants close?

Lots of states and local governments have shut down bars and restaurants in an effort to “flatten the curve.” Will it happen in Minnesota? It might.

Mayor Jacob Frey
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan
Mayor Jacob Frey
“We are in discussion with the governor’s office on that, that is something we are having conversations about,” Ehresmann said.

This just in: Mayor Jacob Frey has declared a local public health emergency in Minneapolis. “He’s going to ask bars, restaurants, night clubs and coffee shops to close or limit their hours,” per MinnPost local government reporter Jessica Lee.

Hospital beds, ventilators

MDH said it is monitoring the number of ICU hospital beds and ventilators across the state but is not making those numbers public. There is a strategic national stockpile that includes ventilators that Minnesota may request supplies from.

Still, Ehresmann said this disease presents challenges not seen before in Minnesota, and it’s critical to slow the spread so systems can respond better.

Only gather in groups of 50 or fewer*

Last week, MDH recommended canceling or postponing events with 250 or more participants. After the CDC issued updated guidelines for events with more than 50 participants, Minnesota followed suit. Read the updated MDH guidelines here.

*Remember, if you go to a smaller event, you should still stay 6 feet away from people.

MDH’s coronavirus website:

Hotline, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.: 651-201-3920

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