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Minnesota Officials Await Test Results in Possible Coronavirus Case

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: February 27, 2020 06:46 PM

The Minnesota Department of Health gave an update on the coronavirus response efforts in the state Thursday.

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The department announced that they are waiting on results for a pending case. The individual has been isolated and interviewed since they were first identified over the weekend. The individual is said to have traveled outside of the United States. MDH sent the specimen to the CDC and expect results to come back soon.

MDH says the risk to the general public remains low but emphasize the importance of having a plan and response efforts in place now. They are working on getting testing for the coronavirus done in Minnesota.

"More cases of Covid19 will be confirmed in Minnesota in the weeks to come. The good news is we still have a window of opportunity before that happens to make practical preparations," said Jan Malcolm, the Minnesota Commissioner of Health.

MDH said the goal now is to minimize spread of the coronavirus and reduce demands on the healthcare sector so that they can focus on helping those who are seriously ill. Researchers are currently working on a vaccine for the virus but say it will take some time before it hits the market.

MDH is urging employers to have a plan in place for elevated absences and consider having employees working from home in case the virus spreads.

With childcare and school, the department said thinking of plan B is important in case the facilities are forced to close and isolation measures need to be taken.

UMD officials say they've been keeping students and staff updated on the coronavirus with weekly emails and have been advising them on travel plans.

“We’re thinking of would we need to cancel lectures, would we need to move courses to online modes of delivery or other things like that. At this point it’s prep and trying to think of possibilities so we are ready to go,” said Jeremy Youde, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts at UMD.

“We are having those conversations now and are doing that preparation now so that if things do come to pass, you're not trying to scramble last minute,” said Youde.

MDH also said Minnesotans should take a measured approach of making an at home supply of medications and nonperishable food items.

Most importantly, MDH said we can avoid the spread of the coronavirus by covering our mouths when we cough, washing our hands with warm soapy water, and staying home when we're feeling sick.

“Think about what necessary items you need at home including prescription medication, check your refill aid and nonprescription medication like fever reducing medication,” said Kris Ehresmann, the Minnesota Infectious Disease Director.

The Wisconsin Department of Health also gave an update on their response efforts and are looking into methods to avoid spreading the virus, like having employers or students stay home when they're feeling sick.

“We’re thinking of telework, allowing people to work remotely when they can is critical in preventing widespread of Covid19 within the community,” said Jeff Phillips, the Wisconsin Office of Preparedness and Emergency Health Care director.

Wisconsin has one confirmed case so far. They say the individual remains isolated and is doing well.

“The degree to which the virus is spreading through communities is at a higher degree than it was one or two weeks ago. Immediate risk to the communities hasn’t changed in Wisconsin. We don’t believe its spreading currently but our efforts are really increasingly focused on how we can prepare for eventuality that it will in the future,” said Ryan Westergaard, a DHS Chief Medical Officer.

“We are working with the CDC and their development of a large array of strategies to conserve respirators in order to make those supplies last longer. We are investigating whether or not telehealth tools can be used to help direct people to the right level of care for their medical needs and treat people remotely depending on their medical needs. We are looking at developing guidance for schools, childcare programs, colleges and universities to help them plan and prepare for pandemics,” said Phillips.

So far, over 82,500 cases have been confirmed globally and over 2,800 deaths have been reported.

Folks are encouraged to stay up to date with travel guidance on the CDC website.

Credits

Alejandra Palacios

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

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