COVID-19 spread to rural Minnesota as number of cases rises throughout the state


ST. PAUL, MINN. (AP) — The number of cases of the new coronavirus in Minnesota has risen to 21, and now includes a rural county, state health officials said Saturday.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported Saturday the number of cases rose by seven since Friday. Among the new cases is a person in their 30s in Renville County, in southwestern Minnesota. Wright and Washington counties also report new cases.

All but one of Minnesota’s patients are recovering at home, Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann said. A patient in Anoka County was in critical condition earlier in the week.

So far nearly 870 patients in Minnesota have been tested for the virus. While investigations are not complete yet, the cases have made a clear link to someone with confirmed COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, or to a travel history, either domestic or international, Ehresmann said.

On Friday Gov. Tim Walz declared a peacetime state of emergency to limit the spread of COVID-19 and issued a series of recommendations for Minnesotans to take to limit the spread of the disease, such as canceling or postponing gatherings of 250 people or more.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of victims recover.

Ehresmann said officials are asking Minnesotans to use good judgment and stay home if they are sick.

She said officials are “not asking malls to close” or saying “you can’t go to the grocery store” or to a birthday party.

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