ANOKA COUNTY — An Anoka County resident in their 30s with no “glaringly apparent” underlying health conditions tested positive for novel coronavirus Tuesday.
It’s the third case of COVID-19 in the state. But it’s unlike the first two cases, which the Minnesota Department of Health confirmed in Ramsey County on Friday and in Carver County on Sunday.
The first two cases affected older residents — and both residents were reported to be in isolation at home and recovering.
The Anoka County resident is hospitalized and in critical condition, according to Kris Ehresmann, infectious disease division director.
The patient was likely exposed to the virus through contact with international travelers. The exposure likely did not occur in Minnesota, Ehresmann said on a call with media on Tuesday afternoon.
Ehresmann said the patient developed symptoms on Feb. 28 and sought health care on March 3 and March 9. The patient was evaluated and released on March 3 — an action Ehresmann called “appropriate at that point in their illness” because “that’s what their symptoms called for at that time.”
The patient was hospitalized Monday and the specimen tested Tuesday morning came back positive in a test run through the Minnesota Department of Health’s Public Health Laboratory. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will conduct additional tests to confirm the results, according to a news release from the department.
The Department of Health, Anoka County Public Health and other health care partners are working together to find and contact anyone who may have come in contact with the patient.
Ehresmann said officials are working with the patient’s family to get more information on potential exposure to others.
“Certainly there will be some exposures,” Ehresmann said, but emphasized the individual and their family took “great care to isolate and that makes all the difference in the world for our work and our community.”
Because the patient is hospitalized, investigating the case will be more complicated. But Ehresmann said the “individual’s health care is the higher priority.”
Officials are investigating the status of the international travelers. Ehresmann did not release where the travelers were from or if one or more of the travelers tested positive for COVID-19; she did say the travelers were from locations where we’re seeing “lots of COVID spread.”
The state’s first case of COVID-19 was an older Ramsey County resident who recently traveled on a cruise ship with a known COVID-19 case. The second case was a Carver County resident in their 50s who was likely exposed while traveling in Europe in late February.
As of Tuesday, COVID-19 has sickened 116,000 people and resulted in 4,000 deaths globally. In the United States, 756 people have been confirmed to have COVID-19 and 26 people have died. Twenty-two of the deaths were in Washington.
Who needs to quarantine?
People exposed to COVID-19 will be asked to quarantine themselves for two weeks from the date of exposure and will be monitored for symptoms.
COVID-19 is largely spread by “respiratory droplets” from when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or if someone touches a contaminated surface and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth.
Ehresmann said the department classifies exposure as high risk, medium risk and low risk — and each have different protocols.
People at high risk are household members or people who have spent an exceptionally long period of time with someone has tested positive.
The department recommends those people are quarantined and “do not go out in public at all,” Ehresmann said, noting the department works directly with high-risk people to monitor them for symptoms.
People at medium risk will have had exposure of at least 10 minutes and within six feet — with no protection — with an infected person.
The department recommends those people are quarantined but can go out in public to pick up essentials or groceries. They are advised to stay six feet away from other people.
People at low risk are people who have been exposed to infected people but were wearing proper personal protective equipment. The department recommends those people monitor themselves for symptoms.
Will MDH recommend canceling events?
The Minnesota Department of Health is not yet recommending organizations cancel large gatherings such as school events or athletic tournaments but recommended businesses or educational institutions practice conducting business or classes through video conferencing.
“Once we see multiple cases from multiple different areas, that’s when we would start to look at a stronger … mitigation method,” Ehresmann said.
As of Tuesday, 135 patients in Minnesota had been tested for COVID-19. Fifty of those were tested in the Minnesota Department of Health’s lab, Ehresmann said.
She reminded people to keep in mind that the situation is changing rapidly — and said the department may get more information on cases “even today.”
“This could go on for months and months,” she said. “We want to be judicious in … recommending a lockdown.”
Jenny Berg is the cities and schools reporter for the St. Cloud Times. Reach her at 320-259-3680 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @bergjenny.
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