The Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has come to Minnesota, and Isanti County Public Health is preparing its team and updating their emergency response plans to fit the current need.

As of the March 4 Isanti County Community Health Board meeting, there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota, according to Public Health Director Tony Buttacovoli. There were 60 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US with six deaths, mostly for people in long-term care, according to Buttacavoli. 

“Again, it seems to be people that are already at high for morbidity and mortality getting the disease,” Buttacavoli said, noting there were 12 states affected at that time. 

The state was granted permission to conduct testing locally at the state level beginning Monday, March 2, Buttacavoli informed the board, noting the state would be able to process up to 100 tests per day. 

“So, obviously, whenever you increase the surveillance for a disease, you’re going to see it more. So, I totally expect that we’ll start seeing some different cases in our state. I don’t know how there couldn’t be with global travel and complex positions that people have moving around,” Buttacavoli said.

To prepare for a potential outbreak in Isanti County, the Isanti County COVID-19 team was created within the Public Health Department in order to organize the department to better handle the situation so all duties do not fall on one person, Buttacavoli said. The team, which includes about six staff, is meeting weekly to come up with action steps.

The Isanti County Public Health Department already has a lot of plans, education, and training in place, so it’s more about taking those out, reviewing them, and seeing what makes sense in this situation, Buttacavoli informed the board, noting the team has also inventoried its personal protective equipment and started collaborating with other departments in the county to evaluate their needs.

People in the county who have questions regarding COVID-19 can contact the Public Health Department 763-689-8293 or visit its website co.isanti.mn.us/323/Public-Health.

Information and updates about the start and spread of COVID-19

Since March 4, 82 Minnesota residents have been tested for COVID-19, and three people tested positive for the disease, according to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). MDH is not releasing information about where in Minnesota those who tested positive reside.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The outbreak of the virus is being monitored by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO), according to MDH.

In the United States, COVID-19 was first detected in a resident returning from Wuhan Jan. 21, 2020; the first case in Minnesota was detected March 6, 2020, according to MDH.

As of March 9, there are 423 cases of COVID-19 spread throughout 35 states (including the District of Columbia) in the US; 19 US residents have died from the disease, according to CDC.

Of those cases, 72 are travel-related, 29 are person-to-person spread, and 322 are still under investigation, according to CDC.

For more information, visit cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-in-us.html or health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/situation.html.

Symptoms

Illnesses from COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed cases, according to CDC.

Symptoms that may appear 2-14 days after exposure include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Those who develop symptoms should call their doctor if they have been in close contact with someone known to have COVID-19, or have recently traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread, according to CDC.  

Prevention

The best way to prevent illness from COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to it; there is no vaccine at this time, according to CDC.

CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

•Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

•Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth.

•Stay home when sick.

•Cover a cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

•Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

•Follow CC recommendations for using a facemask.

*CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.

*Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings.

•Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing nose, coughing, or sneezing.

*If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

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