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St. Louis Co. cases jump 65% in one day, Sawyer Co. sees first case

Updated: April 08, 2020 08:17 PM

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in St. Louis County jumped 65 percent in Wednesday's update from the Minnesota Department of Health. Meanwhile, Sawyer County, Wisconsin, reported its first case.

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The number of cases in St. Louis County increased by 11, reaching 28. The Minnesota Department of Health also reported one more case in Carlton County in Wednesday's update.

St. Louis County said at least two of the newly-diagnosed individuals are currently hospitalized: a man in his early 70s and a woman in her late 80s. The other new cases include four women in their mid to late 70s, two women in their mid 90s, a man in his late 80s, a man in his mid 40s, and a woman in her mid 60s.

The county says of the 28 total cases, five patients are currently hospitalized, including those identified on Wednesday, but that 11 have also recovered.

The county said a large percentage of the new cases are linked to St. Ann's Residence, an assisted living facility in Duluth. County, state, and health care staff are working with St. Ann's to assist in infection control recommendations, surge capacity, and supplies.

"These are the kind of situations we've been preparing for, but it is still concerning, and a grim reminder of the seriousness of COVID-19, and how quickly it can spread," Amy Westbrook, St. Louis County Public Health division director, said in a news release.

St. Ann's is not currently listed on the Minnesota Department of Health's list of long-term care facilities across the list with at least one confirmed case of COVID-19.

Minnesota Department of Health Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann says the reason for that is they wait 48 hours until after a case is confirmed so that residents and staff can be informed.

The county's Public Health department warned that the virus is likely being spread by community transmission.

"Community transmission means we cannot identify the source from which a person has caught the infection," said Westbrook. "We have seen several cases this week that do not appear to be linked to travel, nor are they linked to previously confirmed case."

The county says they have also now signed contracts with four hotels across the county as a temporary location for those who need to quarantine, but do not have a safe place to do so, primarily the homeless population. 

"The locations of these quarantine sites are not being released at this time to ensure the privacy of the people who will need to stay there," the county said in a news release.

MDH reported 85 newly confirmed cases on Tuesday, bringing the state's total to 1,154. Five more deaths were reported, bringing Minnesota's total to 39.

Elsewhere, Sawyer County reported its first confirmed COVID-19 case on Wednesday. Sawyer County Health & Human Services said the person is at home in isolation, and they are working to determine how the person may have become infected and contacting individuals with whom the patient had close contact.

"Sawyer County Public Health is ready to respond to an increased number of cases. We will continue to work with the Lac Courte Oreilles Health Center, Wisconsin Department of Health Services and our local partners to make sure that our community remains safe and healthy," Sawyer County Public Health Officer Julia Lyons said in a news release.

Sawyer County is providing updates on its response and resources for county residents on its website.

The Wisconsin Department of Health reported seven new deaths and 178 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, bringing the total number of deaths to 99 and cases to 2,756.

The Michigan Department of Health reported 114 more deaths and 1,376 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases to 20,346 and the total number of deaths to 959. It was the fifth day in a row that the number of new cases has increased by more than 1,000.

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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