A second St. Louis County case of COVID-19 has been confirmed.
The victim is a woman in her early 60s whose infection was linked to domestic travel, according to information from the Minnesota Department of Health, which the county passed along Monday in a news release.
The woman was tested March 19 and is recovering at home, according to the news release. She is believed to have had contact only with members of her immediate household, who were asked to quarantine themselves for 14 days from their exposure date. They will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms.
The first confirmed case in the county was reported Saturday and also was linked to domestic travel — not community transmission. The first individual is a woman in her late 60s with no underlying health conditions, according to News Tribune reporting.
At a news conference Monday, Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said 66 additional cases over the weekend had brought the state’s total to 235. The state’s first death also was reported.
That comes against the backdrop of the state eliminating much of its backlog of COVID-19 tests, Gov. Tim Walz said. On Sunday alone, 982 tests were processed, he said.
The state health department didn’t provide more specific geographic information about the two St. Louis County cases. MDH spokesman Doug Schultz acknowledged the county's large size in an email. But specific location isn't the issue, he wrote.
"'We need to move people away from thinking that if COVID is 'over there' then it’s not 'here',” Schultz wrote. "The location of the house of a case (their residence), be it in northern St. Louis County or southern St. Louis County, is not necessarily reflective of where they might have acquired the infection. The person might have been infected overseas, on a cruise ship, or in another state. You should just assume it’s in your community."
Exactly, said Amy Westbrook, St. Louis County Public Health Division director, in the county’s news release.
“My advice is people should act as if there is a confirmed case right in their neighborhood,” Westbrook said. “There is limited testing available, so we have to assume there are more cases in our midst, and we need everyone’s cooperation on containing the spread.”
Preventative steps, according to the news release:
Stay home if sick.
Wash hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow.
Avoid touching mouth and face.
Practice general good health behaviors, including staying hydrated and well-rested.
In most cases, COVID-19 symptoms are mild or moderate, with fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the news release. For some, especially older adults and those with underlying health conditions, it can cause a more severe illness, such as pneumonia.
In the news conference, Malcolm said that it’s time to seek medical care when the individual’s temperature exceeds 104 or the person has difficulty breathing. If you have any sort of respiratory illness, you should stay home.
Clinical questions about COVID-19, such as identifying symptoms or whether testing is necessary, call Essentia Health at 833-494-0836 or St. Luke’s at 218-249-4200.
Non-clinical questions, such as preventative steps to take or anything travel-related, call the St. Louis County Public Health information line at 218-625-3600 or the Minnesota Department of Health at 651-201-3920.
For information online: stlouiscountymn.gov/covid19.
This story originally misstated the date the first case was confirmed in St. Louis County. It was updated at 12:50 p.m. March 23 with the proper date. The News Tribune regrets the error.
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