ST. PAUL — Minnesota health officials on Sunday, March 8, confirmed the state's second case of the coronavirus in a Carver County resident who recently returned from a trip to Europe.
The individual, who has not been named, is in their 50s and recovering at home, according to the state Department of Health. They were confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, the illness that develops from the coronavirus.
Speaking to members of the press Sunday evening, Health Department officials said they were in the process of identifying and contacting other people with whom the Carver County resident had contact. They will be asked to quarantine themselves for 14 days from the time of their exposure and will also be monitored, the officials said.
Because the disease is not airborne, Health Department infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann said that officials will reach out to only those people who had close contact with the patient for 10 minutes or longer.
"We’re not worried about people that just walked past them at the grocery store," Ehresmann said.
Officials declined to say where in Europe the patient traveled and when they came back to Minnesota in order to protect their identity. The new case of COVID-19 comes two days after the first was confirmed in Ramsey County.
The Carver County patient traveled in Europe in late February and didn't take ill until after their return, officials said. They developed symptoms on Monday, March 2, and sought medical attention that Saturday.
Testing performed at the Health Department's Public Health Laboratory confirmed that both Ramsey County and Carver County patients had genuine cases of COVID-19. As of Sunday, Ehressman said a total of 80 tests have been performed, 31 of which came over the weekend. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has yet to run follow-up tests on samples sent to them from Minnesota, but health officials said they considered their presumptive results to be actionable.
Ehressman and Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm again urged Minnesotans to wash their hands often, cover their coughs with sleeves or tissues and to stay home when feeling sick. Ehressman added that discretion should be used when deciding to see a doctor.
As some states deal with reported test kit shortages, Ehressman said Sunday that the department's Public Health Laboratory had "adequate testing capabilities." Private labs may be enlisted if necessary, she said.
The outbreak of the disease in Minnesota has not progressed to the point of requiring school closures or public gathering cancellations, the officials said. The officials also said they were waiting for guidance from their federal counterparts on how to receive the Minnesotans currently quarantined aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship off the coast of California.
Since breaking out in China in December, the coronavirus has caused more than 107,000 cases of COVID-19 worldwide and killed some 3,600. Around 500 cases have been confirmed in the United States, 21 of which resulted in death.
Ahead of the virus's arrival in Minnesota, health officials on Thursday, March 5, asked state lawmakers for $25.5 million in emergency funding to pay for staffing, testing and containment efforts. The following day, President Donald Trump signed into law a federal coronavirus response plan that included more than $8.3 billion.
In a statement, Sen. Amy Klobuchar said that at least $10 million of the federal response plan could go to Minnesota.
Health experts say the virus spreads through coughs and sneezes, not unlike influenza. Infected individuals can also spread it by touching surfaces after touching their hands, eyes or mouth.