The Minnesota Department of Health reported five more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in St. Louis County on Sunday, doubling the county's total to 10 cases.
One of the patients — a woman in her early 60s — is currently hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus, the county said in a news release Sunday morning.
The others — two men and two women — all in their 20s and 30s — are recovering at home. At least one of those cases is linked to an earlier confirmed case, the county said. Another case is believed to have been picked up during travel. The county does not know how the other new cases were transmitted, however.
The county has had no known cases of community transmission, new cases in which there was no known source of connection to a person with the illness, Westbrook said.
"We are seeing confirmed cases in both urban and rural parts of St. Louis County," Amy Westbrook, St. Louis County Public Health Division Director, said in the release. "And we continue to assume there are more cases here than what is confirmed due to limited testing. This is also our first instance of a person having serious enough symptoms to require hospitalization, and we wish her all the best for a full recovery."
It marks the first increase in the county's cases since Thursday. St. Louis County recorded its first case on March 21.
"It is concerning anytime you see a significant increase," Westbrook said in a conference call with reporters Sunday afternoon. "We don't know if this trend will continue. It could be a blip; we hope it is. But it's surely just too soon to tell or to draw any conclusions about this increase. We know that other communities are seeing a steady rise as well. So it won't be unusual to see that sort of increase in cases here."
The official number of confirmed cases in the county and state only include positive tests and do not include any of their close contacts such as family members and roommates who are also symptomatic.
Only people who work in health care, live in congregate settings or require hospitalization are being tested.
Westbrook did not have the number of close contacts who are showing symptoms.
Close contacts of people who test positive are being instructed to quarantine for 14 days, Westbrook said.
"There's communication between lab-confirmed cases and then any close contacts that those individuals then identify and recommendations and followup," Westbrook said.
Itasca County confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Sunday. "The individual is in their 60s," the county reported in a news release, but did not elaborate on any further details. Kelly Chandler, public health division manager for the county, said in a statement that there has been no request to provide essential services to the patient.
In Wisconsin, Douglas County has six confirmed cases and Bayfield county has two cases as of Sunday. Iron County recorded its first, and so far only case, as someone who died from the disease. The state has 1,112 cases in total, up from 989 the day before. A total of 13 people have died from COVID-19 in the state.
As of 11 a.m. Sunday, Minnesota has reported 503 people have tested positive; 252 of them no longer need to be isolated; 75 people have needed to be hospitalized, with only 39 remaining in hospitals; and nine people have died.
This story was updated at 12:47 p.m. (March 29) with corrected information from St. Louis County about the number and gender of some of the new patients. It was originally posted at 11:25 a.m.(March 29). Additional information from a conference call with reporters was added at 4:05 p.m. and information from Itasca County was added at 7:26 p.m. (March 29)
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