Coronavirus: First confirmed death in Minnesota

There are now 137 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota.
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UPDATE 2 P.M.

Here are the key points from Saturday afternoon's media briefing from the Minnesota Department of Health, including Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm.

– Minnesota's first coronavirus death, an individual in their 80s, was in contact with a family member who had COVID-19 from travel. Symptoms started Mar. 13, they were admitted on Mar. 16, and died on Mar. 19.

– Victim did have underlying medical conditions as well as the "risk factor of age."

– 12 have been hospitalized in total: 6 released, 6 people currently hospitalized, 4 of them in ICU.

– Of the 23 new cases reported on Saturday, one of them is a 10-year-old who was home-schooled.

– There is a general shift towards more and more community transmission.

– "We're seeing a shift to more severe disease in our hospitals as well." – Malcolm.

– "We believe the virus is circulating in communities around the state."

– When asked how to respond to models suggesting the coronavirus respective rate is 11 times higher than being reported, MDH director of infectious diseases Kris Ehresmann said that is probably a "conservative estimate."

11 a.m.

Minnesota has registered its first confirmed death from the novel coronavirus.

The death was announced on the Minnesota Department of Health situation update page Saturday morning. 

The victim was a resident of Ramsey County in their 80s who recently tested positive for coronavirus, and died on Thursday, Mar. 19. They had had contact with an earlier confirmed case.

“Gwen and I extend our deepest sympathies to the loved ones during this time of loss,” said Governor Tim Walz. “As COVID-19 continues to spread in Minnesota, we must all do what we can to keep each other safe.”

There are now 137 of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Minnesota, a jump of 22 on the 115 reported on Friday.

The updated figure from the Minnesota Department of Health represents the number of confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. Friday.

Dodge, Jackson, St. Louis, Steele and Wabasha counties all have their first reported case.

The health department tested 234 samples on Friday for a total of 4,090.

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Health officials have been saying for days now that the total number of cases is significantly higher than the confirmed number because of limited testing and because community transmission is believed to be happening statewide.

MDH testing for COVID-19 is limited to those requiring hospitalization, healthcare workers, and those in "congregant living situations," such as long-term care homes, but private providers such as Mayo Clinic are now testing increasing numbers of people.

While positive tests from private clinics in Minnesota are submitted to MDH, the total number of cases tested are not.

Dr. Bill Morice of the Mayo Clinic told KFAN radio Friday that Mayo is now doing between 3,000 and 3,500 tests per day," though it's possible that some of these tests are for people out of state.

Those with symptoms who don't require hospitalization and aren't healthcare workers/long-term care residents are being told to isolate themselves and manage their symptoms at home.

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You can find guidance on what to do in the event you have any kind of respiratory symptoms here.

Here's how the numbers have risen in the past week:

  • Saturday - 21 total
  • Sunday - 35 total
  • Monday - 54 total
  • Tuesday - 60 total
  • Wednesday - 77 total
  • Thursday - 89 total
  • Friday - 115 total
  • Saturday - 137 total.

You can see an interactive map of estimated totals for every Minnesota county right here

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