Latest on COVID-19 in Minnesota: Testing criteria tightened, case count at 60

Published 9:05 am Wednesday, March 18, 2020

MPR News Staff

In Minnesota, the count of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continues to rise. On Tuesday, the state Health Department confirmed 60 cases, up from 54 the day before and said that, for the first time, the total includes some health care workers.

Overall, more than 2,300 people have been tested for the new coronavirus in Minnesota.

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Tuesday: Restaurants, bars, gyms and other places where people gather closed or altered their businesses as of 5 p.m. The state issued stricter parameters for which patients should be tested for coronavirus.

Wednesday: Classes resume at the University of Minnesota — but online. At 11 a.m. MPR News’ Kerri Miller will talk about the ways Americans’ views have changed as the spread of the new coronavirus has increased across the globe. The Minnesota Department of Health will update its count of confirmed cases by noon; and at 1 p.m. MDH will hold its daily COVID-19 briefing.

 Thursday: The National Weather Service will issue an update on the status of spring flooding in the Red River Valley and Minnesota’s other flood-prone regions. Local officials along Minnesota’s border with North Dakota are working to prepare for the annual flooding season while following social distancing guidelines.
The story of the virus’ spread in Minnesota continues to develop rapidly.

In just one day, the state tightened its criteria for COVID-19 testing, limiting it to the most critical cases; allocated millions of dollars in emergency funding to address the pandemic; and opened its unemployment benefits to workers whose jobs have been affected by the pandemic.

In the meantime, communities and industries continue to adjust to the new collective reality of fighting the spread of the disease:

County attorneys are considering releasing some jail detainees.

Dentists are responding to emergencies only.

Public safety officials are asking COVID-19 patients to call 911 for help only if their virus symptoms are acute.

Hospitals are preparing for a possible surge in cases.

The Mall of America is temporarily closing.