Minnesota confirms first death due to COVID-19

An illustration of the appearance of a coronavirus, such as the 2019 coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19. (Submitted / Centers for Disease Control)

ST. PAUL -- Health officials on Saturday confirmed the first death in the state from COVID-19.

The person who died Thursday, March 19, was a Ramsey County resident in their 80s who had recently contracted the illness from another person known to have the illness.

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

Also on Saturday, the state reported 23 new cases, bringing the statewide total case count to 138. Cases were added from residents of five counties not previously included in the growing list of counties with known cases. Health officials stress that they believe their case count is an undercount and COVID-19 is circulating widely within the state.

The new counties included are St. Louis(1), Wabasha (1), Steele (2), Jackson and Dodge (1). A state map of counties with positive test findings does not include Dodge County, which lies between Steele and Olmsted counties.

The state has now tested 4,090 people. It is only testing healthcare workers, the hospitalized and persons in long term care. Private testing centers are encouraged to test all others and are taking patients after screening by their providers.

The health department advises all persons who develop respiratory symptoms and a fever, if they are able to manage their symptoms at home, to self-isolate for 14 days, or three days after the end of their fever, whichever is longest. It has stressed that there is no treatment value to gaining a positive diagnosis for its own sake.

Family members of those who isolate are advised to isolate for even longer -- two weeks from the start of the patient's isolation.

The CDC COVID-19 symptom checklist is here.

MDH COVID-19 hotline: (651) 201-3920. 2,300 calls yesterday

Business impacts hotline: (651) 297-1304 or (800) 657-3504.

School and childcare hotline: (651) 297-1304 or (800) 657-3504.

MDH COVID-19 website: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) website.

This is a developing story, check back here for updates.

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