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Minnesota's confirmed coronavirus count nearly doubles to 9

Cases have been found in seven Minnesota counties.

The number of confirmed presumptive cases of the novel coronavirus in Minnesota went from 5 Wednesday to 9 Thursday, according to the latest situation report from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). 

In each of the four new cases, the patients had either a history of international or domestic travel, or had direct exposure to an existing COVID-19 patient.

The four new cases come from Ramsey, Hennepin, Dakota and Stearns Counties.

The previous cases came from Ramsey (2), Carver, Olmsted and Anoka Counties.

In each of the new cases, all the patients are recovering at home. The patient from Anoka County, who was the state's 3rd coronavirus case, remains in a critical condition.

The Department of Health tested 105 people on Wednesday, and says that it will "keep testing multiple batches each day." It has tested more than 300 people statewide since it started testing.

Those exhibiting symptoms are also asked to call the health department's coronavirus hotline on 651-201-3920. It received 881 calls on Wednesday, and is looking to expand the hotline so it can take more calls. 

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The Department of Health says that it's currently focusing the testing on those with the "highest likelihood of having COVID-19, or are in a group we need to know about - a hospitalized patient or someone who has returned from international travel."

That's because the state doesn't yet have the capacity to test everyone with respiratory issues for COVID-19, noting that there are not "unlimited supplies" at the state and national level, though that remains the "ultimate goal."

Health Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann said that those who have a fever or other respiratory issues are likely to have flu, and wants doctors to test for other diagnosis before recommending them for a COVID-19 test.

"We have the capacity for more testing but we want to make sure we are testing judiciously," said Ehresmann.

The Dakota County case was revealed earlier on Thursday, when both St. Thomas Academy and Visitation School in Mendota Heights announced their closures on Thursday and Friday because a parent had contracted COVID-19.

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