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Minnesota’s 1st case of coronavirus in cruise ship passenger



Vice President Mike Pence, the coronavirus czar, stopped at 3M in St. Paul on March 5, 2020, to discuss production of protective gear. (@MikePence on Facebook)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota resident who had recently been on a cruise is the first confirmed case of coronavirus, health officials said Friday.

The Minnesota Department of Health said the case is an older adult from Ramsey County who traveled recently on a cruise ship that carried another person with a known case. The Minnesotan developed symptoms Feb. 25 and first sought health care Thursday, Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said at a news conference with Gov. Tim Walz and other officials.

“This is cause for concern but not panic,” Malcolm said, adding that the case was “certainly not unexpected. The likelihood that we would see one or more cases certainly has been going up steadily in recent days.”

Top department officials got first word of the case from their public heath lab at 12:40 p.m. Friday, said Kris Ehresman, the department’s infections disease director.

“I’m confident Minnesota is prepared for this,” Walz said.

Malcolm said the person did not require hospitalization and is recovering in isolation at home with help from Ramsey County public health officials. The state is awaiting final confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control.

The commissioner said her department said it’s working to identify and contact people who may have come into contact with the infected person. Those people will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days from their date of exposure and will be monitored for symptoms.

Ehresman said she didn’t yet know which cruise ship the person was on, but that department staffers would be interviewing the patient to find out and to determine where they might have been in the days prior to the diagnosis. One passenger on a Grand Princess ship that went to Mexico from Feb. 11 through Feb. 21 has died of the disease and health officials have recently disclosed that six other people on that same excursion were infected.

Malcolm and Ehresman declined to give many details about the patient, including gender, though Ehresman said that given the person’s age, it’s unlikely they were employed. The person apparently spent most of his or her time in recent days at home, they said.

The commissioner also said Minnesota residents should be prepared for measures that may be imposed later to stop the spread of the disease. She said those measures may include temporary school closings, postponements of large community gatherings and working with employers to have more of their employees work from home.

The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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