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Four more COVID-19 cases confirmed in St. Louis County

The county also provided an update about St. Ann's Residence.

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Four new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in St. Louis County on Tuesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 42, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

One more case was reported in Carlton County, bringing the total to 26. Itasca County has two total cases; its most recent confirmed case was reported April 1. Cook and Lake counties have no confirmed cases.

At the St. Louis County Board meeting in Duluth on Tuesday, Public Health and Human Services Director Linnea Mirsch and Public Health Division Director Amy Westbrook addressed the outbreak at St. Ann's Residence.

Mirsch said assistance from St. Luke's hospital and Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center would possibly extend through the month.

"It's clear there's not a concrete term," Mirsch said. "It sounds like there will be some level of staffing and supervision almost to the beginning of May."


St. Ann's entered the COVID-19 crisis in a staffing crisis, and Mirsch said, "that is absolutely impacting the reality of staffing and that will continue."

The long-term care facility was getting a lot of support from the state health department, specifically infection control and epidemiological investigators, Westbrook said.

"They're feeling better," Westbrook said. "They still do need staffing support, both direct care and other."

Mirsch said the county was also still trying to determine which volunteers who would be FEMA-eligible to help at the facility.

Given assistance from the hospitals, the county had bought some time, "Our goal is to support them through early May at this point," Mirsch said.

"This just shows a significant lapse of where we're at especially when it comes to funding elder homes," Commissioner Patrick Boyle said, describing residents as at or below the poverty level. "There's a lot of nursing homes out there that take care of some of our most vulnerable elders, and we have to do a better job in the future of how we staff them."

Statewide, 1,695 people have tested positive out of the 39,241 tests completed as of 4 p.m. Monday and 909 people no longer need to be isolated. On Tuesday, 177 people were hospitalized and 75 of them were in an intensive care unit.

The Health Department reported nine more deaths in Minnesota, bringing the total to 79.


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Peter Passi covers city government for the Duluth News Tribune. He joined the paper in April 2000, initially as a business reporter but has worked a number of beats through the years.
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