Minnesota’s coronavirus status (March 28, 2020)

Mrch28covid cases
The Minnesota Department of Health announced 43 new lab tested positive cases of COVID-19 March 28 for a total of 441 confirmed cases across the state. Of these cases, 57 have been hospitalized with 30 currently hospitalized, 13 of which are in the intensive care unit. MDH also announced another death due to the coronavirus. This individual was a Hennepin County resident in their 70s with underlying health conditions. This latest case increases the death toll to five in Minnesota. 
Saturday’s cases range from 2 to 73 years old. The age range of all cases remains at 5 months to 104 years old. Approximately 7,290 patients have been tested at the MDH Health Lab since Jan. 20, 2020, and another 8,839 have been tested at external laboratories.
The case load also includes 20 people who are in congregate living facilities.
“These outbreaks are either confirmed cases in a resident or staff member at a congregate living facility,” Kris Ehresmann said. “We knew we would see this. … We’re seeing more cases (in congregate living facilities) as we see more cases in the communities. These facilities are our focus and concern right now.”
Ehresmann is the director for MDH Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division.
As cases have been identified in these facilities, MDH is working with those facilities to contact family members and educate them on the situation.
Of the 441 cases in Minnesota, 220 have been released from isolation.
“That’s definitely a positive,” Ehresmann said. “And, the number of hospitalizations overall really match what we’ve seen globally and nationally. Really, there’s nothing particularly different about what’s happening in Minnesota.”
Ehresmann did not state when Minnesota would see its highest spike in cases but reiterated the importance of following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guidelines to slow and reduce the spread of the virus.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever, cough and muscle aches. If an individual has any signs of a cold, they need to remain in isolation and out of the public for seven days and at least three days without symptoms.
“We can’t test everyone,” she said. “If you feel sick at all, please stay at home. If the population is focusing on self-monitoring and isolating themselves, that will go a long way in reducing transmission.”

Counties with cases include (and number of confirmed cases*): 
  • Anoka (12)
  • Beltrami (2)
  • Benton (1)
  • Big Stone (1)
  • Blue Earth (7)
  • Carver (9)
  • Cass (1)
  • Chisago (1)
  • Clay (4)
  • Clearwater (1) 
  • Dakota (33) 
  • Dodge (6)
  • Faribault (1)
  • Fillmore (5)
  • Goodhue (2)
  • Hennepin (152) 
  • Jackson (1)
  • Kandiyohi (1)
  • Lac qui Parle (1)
  • Le Sueur (11)
  • Lincoln (1)
  • Mahnomen (1)
  • Martin (19)
  • Mower (11)
  • Nicollet (3)
  • Olmsted (37)
  • Ramsey (42) 
  • Renville (1) 
  • Rice (3)
  • Scott (8)
  • Sherburne (5)
  • Sibley (1)
  • St. Louis (5) 
  • Stearns (5)
  • Steele (5) 
  • Wabasha (4)
  • Waseca (3)
  • Washington (25)
  • Wilkin (1)
  • Winona (4)
  • Wright (5) 
*The data may not equal the total number of reported cases, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. 

 

Minnesota’s coronavirus status (March 27, 2020)

March27cases confirmed
The Minnesota Department of Health announced 52 new positive cases of COVID-19 March 27 for a total of 398 confirmed cases across the state and four deaths. Cases range from 5 months to 104 years old, with 34 people currently hospitalized. Approximately 6,929 patients have been tested at the Minnesota Department of Health Public Health Lab since Jan. 20, 2020, and approximately 7,074 have been tested at external laboratories.
Walz spent the majority of his daily briefing speaking to what he thinks is critical work done by the Minnesota legislature.
“The state of Minnesota is coming together,” Walz said. “The legislature over the last few days did incredible, Herculean work. They lifted a very complex but a very needed aid package to fight COVID-19 in so many sectors of Minnesota. They did so in incredibly bipartisan manner.”
The aid package will create an emergency fund to help businesses secure private funding, award grants to the licensed family child care centers, ensure continued funding for the state’s food system, help for local and tribal governments, and direct help to the most vulnerable populations in Minnesota with food and homelessness.
“It’s incredible to see,” Walz said. “It puts us in a strong position. It’ll be presented to me today, and, of course, I’ll sign it into law.”
Four more executive orders were issued by Walz today. The orders are meant to clarify previous orders and help continue operations in the public and private sectors.
The first executive order Walz issued clarifies a previous order to include constitutional officers, like the attorney general and secretary of state, in the state’s leave policy to be in line with the rest of state government. The second order temporarily suspends reporting requirements for local government auditors. The third order allows health-related licensing boards to modify continuing education and licensing renewal, which, according to the order, has become burdensome and in some cases impossible. The fourth order allows for direct relief from some vehicle safety regulations for motor carriers providing direct assistance to support emergency relief efforts related to COVID-19.
           
Counties with cases include (and number of confirmed cases*):
  • Anoka (10)
  • Beltrami (1)
  • Benton (1)
  • Big Stone (1)
  • Blue Earth (7)
  • Carver (8)
  • Cass (1)
  • Chisago (2)
  • Clay (4) 
  • Dakota (28) 
  • Dodge (5)
  • Faribault (1)
  • Fillmore (3)
  • Goodhue (2)
  • Hennepin (141) 
  • Jackson (1)
  • Kandiyohi (1)
  • Lac qui Parle (1)
  • Le Sueur (10)
  • Martin (18)
  • Mower (10)
  • Nicollet (3)
  • Olmsted (34)
  • Ramsey (34) 
  • Renville (1) 
  • Rice (2)
  • Scott (7)
  • Sherburne (3)
  • Sibley (1)
  • St. Louis (5) 
  • Stearns (5)
  • Steele (5) 
  • Wabasha (4)
  • Waseca (3)
  • Washington (22)
  • Wilkin (1)
  • Winona (4)
  • Wright (5) 
*The data may not equal the total number of reported cases, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. 

 

Minnesota’s coronavirus status (March 26, 2020)

March26confirmed cases
The Minnesota Department of Health announced 59 new positive cases of COVID-19 Thursday, March 26, for a total of 346 confirmed cases across the state and two deaths. Cases range from 5 months to 104 years old, with 31 people currently hospitalized. Approximately 6,849 patients have been tested at the MDH Public Health Lab since Jan. 20, 2020, and approximately 6,101 have been tested at external laboratories.
“I recognize that the last 24 hours have been stressful,” said Gov. Tim Walz.
A day after the governor signed a stay-at-home order for Minnesotans, he announced the state’s second death and clarified some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding the stay-at-home order.
Walz said he wants Minnesotans to stay at home voluntarily. He also said law enforcement will be focused on educating the public as opposed to arresting them, but his executive order reads, “Any person who willfully violates such an order or rule is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction must be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or by imprisonment for not more than 90 days.”
Among other questions, many of which are answered on the state’s website, Walz is frequently being asked what qualifies as a legitimate reason to leave the home. The list included relocation to ensure safety, for individuals whose homes are unsafe or have become unsafe; health and safety activities, like emergency services; outdoor activities, including walking, hiking, running and biking; retrieving necessary supplies and services; essential intrastate and interstate travel; care of others, including pets; and displacement, or those who do not have a home.
When Walz handed off to Department of Employment and Economic Development Steve Grove, he said the majority of Minnesota workers are categorized as essential.
“Seventy-eight percent of jobs are actually in those critical industries, so for some work will continue,” Grove said.
As the number of those applying for unemployment insurance reaches 3 million nationally, a record-amount, Grove said approximately 182,000 people have applied for unemployment insurance in Minnesota, and that the state will likely see 28% unemployment.
           
Counties with cases include (and number of confirmed cases*):
  • Anoka (8)
  • Benton (1)
  • Big Stone (1)
  • Blue Earth (6)
  • Carver (8)
  • Cass (1)
  • Chisago (2)
  • Clay (4) 
  • Dakota (25) 
  • Dodge (5)
  • Fillmore (3)
  • Hennepin (128) 
  • Martin (12)
  • Mower (10)
  • Nicollet (3)
  • Olmsted (29)
  • Ramsey (32) 
  • Renville (1) 
  • Rice (2)
  • Scott (6)
  • Sherburne (1)
  • Sibley (1)
  • St. Louis (5) 
  • Stearns (5)
  • Steele (5) 
  • Wabasha (4)
  • Waseca (2)
  • Washington (15)
  • Wilkin (1)
  • Winona (2)
  • Wright (5)
*The data may not equal the total number of reported cases, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. 

 

Physical Access Limited, Access to Justice Maintained

For immediate release

ST. PAUL, Minn. (March 20, 2020) – After careful consideration and consultation, the Judicial Council has recommended further restrictions for in-person courthouse access. In response, Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea has issued a statewide order, ADM20-8001 Continuing Operations of the Courts of the State of Minnesota Under a Statewide Peacetime Declaration of Emergency. The order restricts in-person access to courthouses for only designated case types, and opens up additional opportunities for remote hearings that must occur during the COVID-19 pandemic. The order goes into effect on Monday, March 23, 2020, and is in effect for the next 30 days or until another order is issued, whichever comes first.

“We are committed to protecting the safety of all who must enter into a courthouse during this unprecedented time. The Minnesota Judicial Branch is where people access justice and defend their constitutional rights. The balancing of public health and access to justice during this time is testing our systems and procedures. The steps we announce today will help us maintain that delicate balance,” said Chief Justice Gildea.

For detailed explanations, see the order. Below is a summary of major changes established by the order.

District Court Hearings & Processing – See: section B.
The courts will remain open on a limited basis for in-person contact, and continue to accept filings in all case types. Self-help services and facilities will be conducted via phone or email. District courts may be contacted by phone (bottom of page) or email. Other than specifically provided for by the order, case deadlines established by Court Rules remain in effect unless extended by an order of the Supreme Court or the presiding judge.

Except for specific cases detailed in the order (and below), all other proceedings in all other case types shall be held by ITV or any other remote technology that permits the parties and attorneys to appear without being in the courtroom, or by review of the parties’ submissions without oral argument, to the extent feasible and practicable.
 
  • The following adult criminal case types, where the defendant is in custody, will be held in the courtroom. The defendant and the attorneys may appear remotely. Victim impact information may be provided remotely. 
    • bail review
    • hearings under Rule 8 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure
    • omnibus hearings that do not require live testimony
    • plea hearings
    • sentencing hearings and
    • probation revocation hearings, if any necessary testimony can be provided remotely. 
  • The following juvenile proceedings, and cases where the juvenile is in custody, will be held in the courtroom. The juvenile and the attorneys may appear remotely.
    • detention review
    • omnibus hearings that do not require live testimony
    • plea hearings
    • certification hearings
    • extended juvenile jurisdiction hearings
    • disposition hearings and
    • probation revocation hearings, if any necessary testimony can be provided remotely. 
  • Juvenile protection proceedings for emergency protective care (EPC) will be held in the courtroom. When possible, EPC hearings will be combined with any admit/deny hearing. Attendance to these hearings will be limited to parties and parent-participants, and their attorneys. 
    • All other proceedings in juvenile protection matters can be held remotely, or will be conducted based on the presiding judge’s review of the written submissions.
  • In all housing/eviction matters, hearings will be held in the courtroom on an emergency basis when there is a showing of individual or public health, or safety, at risk.
  • Hearings will be held in the courtroom for any case type where there is an immediate liberty concern, or when public or personal safety concerns are paramount. 

In-person hearings will adhere to Minnesota Department of Health social distancing guidance to limit the number of people and the proximity of people in a courtroom to the extent possible.

Jurors – See: section B., paragraph 4.
Jurors must follow the instructions on paper summons, but the Minnesota Judicial Branch will not be calling any additional jurors to courthouses for the next 30 days. Individuals with suspected or actual exposure to COVID-19 who are summoned to report for jury duty must contact the court to discuss rescheduling options for his or her jury service.
  • All jury trials underway as of March 13 should continue until the trial is complete, regardless of case type.
  • Grand juries that have been empaneled as of March 23 and are actively hearing a case will continue to hear the case.
  • No new jury trials or grand jury proceedings will start will start prior to April 22, 2020.

Media – See: section C., paragraph 14.
To ensure access to hearings, members of the media who wish to cover a hearing must work with the State Court Information Office or the Hennepin County District Court Communications Specialist. Media must provide 24-hours advance notice of a request to attend a hearing, and will be required to follow all social distancing protocols enforced by court administration and judicial officers. Where multiple requests exist, media may be required to coordinate a pool. There will be no access to public access terminals (courthouse terminals) or non-courtroom space in courthouses for the public or media. Media may work with the Court Information Office to request documents.

About the Minnesota Judiciary
The Minnesota Judicial Branch is made up of 10 judicial districts with 295 district court judgeships, 19 Court of Appeals judges, and seven Supreme Court justices. The Judicial Branch is governed by the Judicial Council, which is chaired by Lorie S. Gildea, Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court.  The Minnesota Judicial Branch is mandated by the Minnesota Constitution to resolve disputes promptly and without delay. In 2018, there were nearly 1.2 million cases filed in district courts in Minnesota. For more information please visit www.mncourts.gov.
 

Video visits offered for patients with chronic conditions

                ST. CLOUD – To ensure patients with chronic conditions get the care they need during the COVID-19 outbreak, CentraCare is now offering video visits.
                This action benefits patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or cancer. Patients with appointments will be contacted to change their in-person appointments to video visits.
                “Patients with chronic conditions may also be at a higher risk for COVID-19,” said George Morris, MD, vice president of performance excellence. “With a video visit, we can help patients manage their condition in the safest way possible by staying at home
                Patients will continue to meet with their regular providers. Video visits are available to patients of all CentraCare locations.
                CentraCare has dedicated additional staff to help patients learn to use the technology. At this time, video visits are being scheduled for patients with chronic conditions who need to be seen in the next few weeks.
                For those who have symptoms of respiratory illness, do one of the following:
                – Visit CentraCare eClinic for online, phone or video visit, 24/7; respiratory screening is free of charge at this time.
                – Call CentraCare Connect at 320-200-3200 to speak with a nurse, 24/7.
 

CentraCare quickClinic locations closed until further notice
Decision will protect shopping environment

                ST. CLOUD – To reduce the spread of COVID-19 and support local grocery stores, CentraCare quickClinic locations are closed until further notice. This change became effective March 24.
                CentraCare quickClinics are located inside Coborn’s in Foley, Coborn’s in Sauk Centre and Cash Wise in Waite Park.
                This action benefits grocery store workers and supports the entire community in maintaining a safe shopping environment. The closure of CentraCare quickClinics will result in fewer people visiting the grocery store, especially when they are sick.
                All CentraCare facilities are making every effort to ensure safety and reduce the risk of infection.
                For those who have symptoms of respiratory illness and those who need immediate care for other reasons, do one of the following to ensure you are directed to the correct place for care:
- Visit CentraCare eClinic for online, phone or video visit, 24/7; COVID-19 screening is free.
- Call CentraCare Connect at 320-200-3200 to speak with a nurse, 24/7
 

Benton County facilities under limited access
Public urged to conduct business online, by phone when possible

                FOLEY – Effective immediately, access to the Benton County Courts Facility is limited to appointment only. This restriction affects court administration, county attorney and probation services. People may call 320-968-5000 for an appointment.
                The Benton County Jail will be closed to visitors through May 1. For questions, call 320-968-7201.
                Levels of access to other county facilities vary, but the public is encouraged to conduct business online and over the phone when possible. Call first to schedule an appointment before traveling to county offices. The ability of departments to schedule in-person appointments will vary. T
                he Department of Motor Vehicles Office remains closed.
                Summary of building access restrictions:
                Courts facility – no general public access; call for an appointment.
                Sheriff’s office – no general public access; call 320-968-7201 for an appointment. Jail is closed to visitors through May 1.
                 Human services (Foley and east St. Cloud) – no general public access; call 320-968-5087 for an appointment.
                 Government center – Public entrance on Dewey Street is open, but department entrances are restricted. Face- to-face meetings may occur on a case-by-case basis as determined by individual departments (auditor-treasurer, recorder, assessor and department of development).
                Veterans services officer – Call 320-968-5044 to schedule an appointment.
                Highway department – No general public access; call 320-968-5051 for an appointment.
                Department of Motor Vehicles – Closed.
 

Video visits offered for patients with chronic conditions

ST. CLOUD – To ensure that patients with chronic conditions get the care they need during the COVID-19 outbreak, CentraCare is now offering video visits.
                This action benefits patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or cancer. Patients with current appointments will be contacted to change their in-person appointments to video visits.
                “Patients with chronic conditions may also be at a higher risk for COVID-19,” said George Morris, MD, vice president of performance excellence. “With a video visit, we can help patients manage their condition in the safest way possible, by staying at home
                Patients will continue to meet with their regular provider. Video visits are available to patients of all CentraCare locations.
                CentraCare has dedicated additional staff to help patients learn how to use the technology. At this time, video visits are being scheduled for patients with chronic conditions who need to be seen in the next few weeks.
                For those who have symptoms of respiratory illness, please do one of the following:
                - Visit CentraCare eClinic for online, phone or video visit, 24/7; respiratory screening is free of charge at this time.
                - Call CentraCare Connect at 320-200-3200 to speak with a nurse, 24/7
                This will ensure patients are directed to the correct source of care.
 

Petra Lutheran Sunday services available online

Petra Lutheran Church, of Sauk Rapids, has suspended in-person services, gatherings and programming through March 29. Worship can be viewed by accessing Petra’s YouTube channel through the church’s website, https://www.petralutheran.com
 

Health officials confirm first Minnesota death due to COVID-19
Victim contracted the virus through community contact 

ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Department of Health today reported the first confirmed death of a Minnesota resident due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
          
The death occurred March 19 in a Ramsey County resident in their 80s who recently tested positive for COVID-19 and was the contact of an earlier confirmed case.

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

Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said the death underscores the importance of protecting our most vulnerable Minnesotans during the outbreak. Malcolm emphasized the importance of all Minnesotans doing their part to slow the spread of the virus and protect those in our communities who might be at higher risk of severe illness or death. The most vulnerable include those over 65 and those with underlying health conditions.
            Steps that everyone can take to slow the spread of the virus include:  
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or sleeve, or a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands afterward.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom or before eating. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your face – especially your eyes, nose and mouth – with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home if you have cold or flu-like symptoms, for seven days after your illness onset or three days after your fever resolves without fever reducing medicine, and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
            State and local public health have implemented a series of community interventions such as temporary closures of restaurants, bars and schools, recommended social distancing measures such as staying home as much as possible, maintaining a distance of 6 feet from other people, replacing in-person work meetings with teleworking, and canceling gatherings of 50 people or more. Also, do not hold events with more than 10 people where the majority of participants are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, including gatherings such as those at retirement facilities, assisted living facilities, developmental homes and support groups for people with health conditions.

Visit https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/action.htmlStrategies to Slow the Spread of COVID-19 in Minnesota for recommended community mitigation strategies.

Since the outbreak started in December 2019, more than 284,000 cases and 11,800 deaths have been reported worldwide. The United States reported 19,624 cases and 260 deaths as of this morning.

More information about the coronavirus situation in Minnesota, the U.S. and internationally can be found on MDH’s https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/index.html.

A hotline for the public is open seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The hotline number is 651-201-3920.
 

Minnesotans Urged to Take Care of Mental Health During Social Distancing

As the number of COVID-19 cases increases daily in Minnesota, across the United States and around the world, so do levels of anxiety, stress, and worry. For many, these feelings are compounded by social distancing.
It’s important to protect the health and safety of everyone, and the only way to do that is to prevent and slow the spread of the disease through social distancing and other quarantine measures. Yet while we protect our physical health during this pandemic, we can’t forget to address our mental health.
“Nationally, online screenings for anxiety have increased by nearly 20% over the last few weeks, and for many, social distancing inevitably means isolation and loneliness, said Shannah Mulvihill, Mental Health Minnesota’s executive director. “It’s essential that people take care of their mental health as well as their physical health at this time, and we are working to share information, resources and suggestions that can help with that.”
Suggestions for managing mental health concerns during COVID-19/social distancing:
1.     Check-in with others and connect through more than just email, text, and social media. Call or video chat with your friends and family to make sure they are okay and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.
2.     Identify things you can do to reduce stress and anxiety. Consider what has helped you handle stress in the past, and make adjustments as needed to do those things (i.e. connecting with friends via Facetime instead of over coffee, exercise/yoga videos online instead of a group class, etc.)
3.     Maintain structure in your day. Many people are now working remotely and/or are at home with their children. Creating structure/schedule in your day can help daily life to feel more “normal.”
4.     Get outside if you can, even if it’s just in your yard, on a balcony, or just opening a window. Fresh air and sunshine can be very helpful in improving overall mood and decreasing feelings of depression and anxiety.
5.     Take breaks from social media and news articles that are focused on COVID-19. While it’s important to stay informed, too much information can be overwhelming.
6.     If you’re concerned about your mental health, take a free, anonymous mental health screening at www.mentalhealthmn.org. If you screen positive for a mental health condition, you’ll receive resources and information about next steps.
7.     Know the resources that can help you, including the following:
Minnesota Warmline: A peer-to-peer line for mental health recovery and social isolation, open Monday-Saturday, 5 PM to 10 PM. Toll-free at 877.404.3190 or text “support” to 85511.
Mental Health Helpline: Connections to mental health treatment and services across the state, open Monday-Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM. Toll-free at 800.862.1799 or via online chat at www.mentalhealthmn.org.
Minnesota Crisis Text Line: Text “MN” to 741741
Minnesota County Crisis Response: Search by county or zip code at www.mentalhealthmn.org
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800.273.TALK (8255)
SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline: 800.985.5990 or text “talkwithus” to 66746

For more resources related to mental health and COVID-19/social distancing, visit www.mentalhealthmn.org.

Minnesota Small Businesses Now Eligible For SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program

Thanks to a concerted effort by the state of Minnesota and the SBA to contain the economic impact of Coronavirus, the state's small businesses are now eligible for the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program and can apply for a loan on our website at SBA.gov/disaster.
  • This program can provide low-interest loans of up to $2 million to small businesses and private non-profits.
  • These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills. 
  • The current interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The non-profit rate is 2.75%.
  • These loans have long-term repayment options, up to a maximum of 30 years. 
  • Need help filling out the application? Access these step-by-step instructions

 Minnesota’s coronavirus status (March 21, 2020)

Cases confirmedmarch21
One death has been confirmed as being connected to the coronavirus in Minnesota. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, this individual was a Ramsey County resident in their 80s who tested positive for the virus and was in contact with an earlier confirmed case of an individual who was known for frequent international travel.
Across the state, there are now 137 lab tested confirmed cases of COVID-19; 23 new cases were confirmed March 21. In total, the state has processed 4,090 tests since Jan. 20. 
“We do believe there are more cases in Minnesota circulating in communities across the state,” MDH Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann said. “What we’re seeing is a general shift to more and more community transmission. We cannot emphasize enough taking heed of community mitigation measures.”          
Since the start of the outbreak, 12 patients have been hospitalized with six remaining in the hospital and four of those in the intensive care unit.
“The rest of those patients previously hospitalized and reported cases are recovering at home,” Ehresmann said.       
Additionally, the demographics of lab tested confirmed cases is vast. They range in age from 10 to 94 with a median age of 44. Of those, 82 are male and 57 are female.
Ehresmann said the child is homeschooled.
The state has not been put in a shelter-in-place at this time, where residents need to remain at home. Rather, officials continue to stress the importance of social distancing and not gathering in groups larger than 10.
“We are looking to build additional surveillance methods and models to estimate the total burden of the disease in Minnesota,” Ehresmann said.
One way the department is further monitoring the spread of the virus is by reviewing influenza, specifically reported influenza like illnesses.
“We saw this report spike when there was a wave of influenza A earlier this year, then the wave of influenza B,” Ehresmann said. “We’re seeing it again now and we believe it is COVID-19.”
This virus does spread by direct person-to-person droplet transmission, which is why keeping a 6-foot distance between people is critical. Also, anyone with respiratory symptoms needs to remain self-quarantined, regardless if they have been tested for COVID-19 or not.
 “We don’t anticipate the number of cases slowing down,” Ehresmann said. “Although, because of all the mitigation efforts, it should be slower than what would happen without it.”
Counties with cases include (and number of confirmed cases):
  • Anoka (5)
  • Benton (1)
  • Blue Earth (3)
  • Carver (3)
  • Chisago (1)
  • Clay (1)
  • Dakota (7)
  • Dodge (1)
  • Fillmore (2)
  • Hennepin (52)
  • Jackson (1) 
  • Martin (5)
  • Mower (3)
  • Nicollet (2)
  • Olmsted (12)
  • Ramsey (17)
  • Renville (1)
  • Rice (1)
  • Scott (2)
  • Stearns (4)
  • St. Louis (1)
  • Steele (2)
  • Wabasha (1)
  • Waseca (1)
  • Washington (4)
  • Wright (3)

Metro Bus will reduce service effective Sunday, March 22

ST. CLOUD — As part of the nation-wide effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19, Metro Bus will change all routes and services (with the exception of the Northstar Link) to reflect normal Saturday schedules. Metro Bus Administrative offices and the downtown Mobility Training Center will be closed until further notice. The Transit Center will remain open during hours of service.

Service hours:
-      Dial-a-Ride paratransit services will be available from 8 AM – 6 PM every day.
  • ConneX On-Demand service in Sartell will run from 10:30 AM – 2 PM and 3 PM – 6:30 PM.
  • Fixed Routes will operate from about 7:45 AM – 7:15 PM with individual routes varying as shown below:

ROUTES
FIRST DEPARTURE FROM TRANSIT CENTER
LAST ARRIVAL TO TRANSIT CENTER

ROUTES
FIRST DEPARTURE FROM TRANSIT CENTER
LAST ARRIVAL TO TRANSIT CENTER

ROUTE 1
8:15 AM
6:12 PM

ROUTES 9
7:45 AM
6:12 PM

ROUTES 2
7:45 AM
6:42 PM

ROUTES 10*
8:42 AM
6:08 PM

ROUTES 3
8:45 AM
6:42 PM

ROUTES 11
8:15 AM
6:57 PM

ROUTES 4
7:45 AM
6:12 PM

ROUTES12
8:00 AM
6:57 PM

ROUTES 5
7:45 AM
6:42 PM

ROUTES 22
8:45 AM
6:45 PM

ROUTES 6
8:15 AM
6:57 PM

ROUTES 31
9:15 AM
6:12 PM

ROUTES 8
8:30 AM
7:12 PM

ROUTES 33**
8:00 AM
6:57 PM

*Route 10 begins and ends near Encore Capital Group.
**Route 33 begins and ends at Crossroads Center.
Routes 91-93 are suspended at this time due to SCSU closure.

 “Benton County Human Services Restricting Client Access
at Foley and East St. Cloud Locations” 

Effective Thursday, March 19th at 8:00 a.m. Benton County will not permit client access to its Human Services facilities in Foley and East St. Cloud (Eastgate Office Complex), due to the current public health emergency. Our facilities do not allow for adequate social distancing practices as recommended by the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. The County urges clients to contact Human Services by phone at 320.968.5087, or contact your County worker by email. The County will continue providing services to clients. In the event it becomes critically necessary for clients to meet with a County worker, arrangements can be made by appointment only.

 “New Access Restrictions to Benton County Facilities” 

March 19, 2020
Benton County government remains open to serve our residents during this public health emergency. However, we are restricting public access in certain areas. The County urges customers and clients to interact with us by phone, email or online whenever possible. Starting today, the following public access restrictions are in place:
 The Sheriff’s Office lobby is closed except for Jail visiting, which is still permitted. All other access to the Sheriff’s Office must be by appointment only. Call 320.968.7201 to arrange an appointment. The Sheriff’s office will not accept in-person applications for “permit to carry.” Forms for permit to carry can be obtained from the County website https://www.co.benton.mn.us/237/Forms. The Sheriff’s Office will be installing a drop box for applications soon.
 Public access to offices in the Government Center in Foley is restricted and will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Our main public entrance at 531 Dewey Street is open. Doors to Departments are closed to unrestricted public access. Customers will encounter a sign asking you to stop and call the Department you wish to see. Numbers to each Department are posted. A face-to-face meeting can be arranged if acceptable to both parties in the County Board Room. These restrictions affect the Land Services Department, Auditor-Treasurer, Department of Development and County Administrator (Veterans Services Officer and Human Resources included).
 The County’s DMV Office remains closed. We do not have an estimated date to re-open.

 “Benton County DMV in Foley Closed” 

March 18, 2020
Benton County’s DMV Office in Foley is closed until further notice. This includes drivers licenses, tabs, plates and vehicle title work. Our facility does not allow for the necessary social distancing between customers and employees, or between customers, as recommended by the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control during the current public health emergency. The County has no estimate of when the DMV Office may re-open. We are exploring options for creating a safe environment for employees and customers that will allow the DMV office to re-open.

Minnesota health officials confirm case of novel coronavirus in Benton County

            ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed a presumptive case of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Benton County. The individual is a resident of Benton County who is in their 50s. That is all the information we have at this time.         
            We are working with health officials from the Minnesota Department of Health to evaluate if this person has traveled and who they might have come in contact with. People identified will be asked to quarantine themselves for 14 days from their exposure date and will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms.
            Since the outbreak started in December 2019, more than 134,000 cases and 4,967 deaths have been reported worldwide. That includes 1,701 U.S. cases and 40 deaths as of last week.
            In a majority of cases, COVID-19 causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
            According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. Health officials recommend individuals and families make a plan in case someone gets sick. They also suggest following the same steps for avoiding the flu:
            - Stay home and away from others if you are sick.
            - Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue.
            - Wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds with soap and water.
            - Avoid touching your face throughout the day.
MDH has set up COVID-19 hotlines:
            For school and child care questions call 651-297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
            For health questions, call 651-201-920 or 1-800-657-3903 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
            Visit https://www.cdc.gov and https://www.health.state.mn.us for more information about COVID-19.  

Foley Public School canceled tomorrow

Half-day previously scheduled will not take place
            FOLEY – Foley Public Schools is closing its building until further notice.
            Superintendent Paul Neubauer made the announcement Monday shortly before noon on the district’s Facebook page. The half-day scheduled for March 17 is canceled as well as all district activities, including Monday’s scheduled school board meeting. Services, including nutrition and child care (Foley Falcon University), are suspended.
            According to the release, an individual who tested positive to COVID-19 was present within the district last Thursday and Friday. The school has no way of knowing the level of exposure to students and staff but said the individual did have contact.
            The school is in contact with the Minnesota Department of Health. Symptoms to watch for include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Families are urged to contact primary care providers if they believe a member of the family has contracted the virus.
 

Sauk Rapids closes city hall, public facilities

SAUK RAPIDS – With the continued spread of COVID-19, the city of Sauk Rapids will be closing public facilities. The closure is in effect through April 1.
            According to the release, the city will postpone or cancel non-essential gatherings, meetings and travel.
            City council meetings will continue but the release says, “open meeting law does allow for council meetings to be conducted by telephone or electronic means. More information on this will be forthcoming.”
            City personnel will continue to report to work and city business will proceed, but employees will exercise caution to minimize spread of illness. The police and fire departments will continue to respond, and public works will function as normal.
            Building permits and administrative matters can be submitted electronically or by mail. Utility bills can be dropped off at the box outside of city hall.
            Residents are encouraged to monitor the city’s Facebook page or website at https://www.ci.sauk-rpaids.mn.us for updates.
 

Rice City Council closes public buildings

RICE – The city of Rice closed public access to its facilities Tuesday morning.
            The Rice City Council approved the decision to close city hall and other public buildings, such as the Lions Building and Old Village Hall, at its March 16 council meeting, citing the safety of employees and emergency personnel. The closure will be in effect through April 13; the city will make a decision to extend the timeline or open buildings at that time. 
            City hall employees will continue to serve the public via phone or email; payments can made online or via the city hall’s drop box in the north parking lot at city hall. Public safety response will continue and the police and fire department’s will operate according to each department’s protocol.
            Additional updates will be posted at http://www.ricemn.us.
            For questions or assistance, call city clerk Julie Fandel at 320-393-2280 or email her at jfandel@ricemn.us.
 

Rescheduling of elective appointments, procedures, surgeries

 ST. CLOUD – Due to the presence of COVID-19 in our community, CentraCare will be canceling and rescheduling patients who have elective procedures, surgeries or physicals and well exams.
            This action is being taken to provide safe care for patients, reduce the speed of COVID-19 spread, conserve necessary supplies and redistribute CentraCare staff and providers as needed throughout this pandemic.
            Patients with the following will be contacted to be rescheduled:
            - Elective patient procedures and surgeries.
            - Most physicals and well exams, including pediatrics.
            - Chronic visits that can be postponed or carried out via phone or video.
            - Many outpatient rehabilitation appointments.
            CentraCare began screening patients at the front door before they entered clinic locations March 18. After entering, patients must practice social distancing, keeping a distance of at least 6 feet from others, if possible. CentraCare facilities will work to separate patients with symptoms of respiratory illness from other patients.
            If you have symptoms of respiratory illness, do one of the following:
            - Visit CentraCare eClinic for online, phone or video visit, 24/7. Screening is free of charge.
            - Call CentraCare Connect at 320-200-3200 to speak with a nurse, 24/7.
            This will ensure you will be directed to the correct source of care.
            CentraCare is dedicated to the continued care of all patients who are experiencing a broad range of urgent and emergent care needs. The health and safety of each and every patient continues to be a priority.
 

MDH issues updated guidance on COVID-19 testing criteria

Testing must be focused more tightly due to limited supply of materials
            ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Department of Health announced March 17 that due to a national shortage of COVID-19 laboratory testing materials, the state is forced to make adjustments to its testing criteria to focus on the highest priority specimens, including hospitalized patients. Health care workers and those in congregate living settings such as long-term care will also be given high priority.
            MDH sent a message to Minnesota health care providers today with the following guidance:
            - Hospitals and health care systems should assess whether they can send specimens to a commercial reference laboratory, and determine their own priorities for testing and assess whether these labs have restrictions.
            - Limit sending specimens to the MDH to those from hospitalized COVID-19 patients. At this time, MDH can also test ill health care workers and ill persons living in congregate settings.
            - Providers should inform all patients with undiagnosed fever or acute respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath), even those not able to be tested, that they should self-quarantine for seven days after illness onset, or 72 hours after resolution of fever (without taking fever-reducing medications), and improvement of respiratory symptoms, whichever is longer. Patients should seek care if their symptoms become severe. They should call ahead to health provider when possible.
            - Patients with symptoms who are not able to be tested should isolate themselves from household and intimate contacts as much as possible. Household and intimate contacts of these individuals should limit their activities in public for 14 days after the incorporating precautions in the home, and monitor for symptoms.
            People who have suspect or known cases of COVID-19, but who are not severely ill, should stay home while they recover. If they have severe underlying health conditions or are older adults should contact their health care provider to see if they have additional recommendations for them. If someone develops severe symptoms, they should call ahead to their health care provider, if possible, prior to seeking care.
            Gov. Tim Walz sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence last week calling for an immediate increase in the number of COVID-19 laboratory tests available to Minnesota health care providers.
            The virus that causes COVID-19 is spread primarily by respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza spreads. It can also spread when people touch contaminated surfaces and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth.
            More information about the symptoms of COVID-19 can be found on https://www.helath.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/index.html, as well as additional information about how to protect yourself and your community.
            MDH has set up a COVID-19 public hotline that is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The hotline number is 651-201-3920.
            The Minnesota Department of Public Safety has a hotline to field questions about the issues associated with community mitigation, including school and business impacts. That line is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, and the hotline numbers are metro 651-297-1304, and toll-free 1-800-657-3504.
 

Diocese suspends Masses

All weekday, weekend services postponed through April 13 
            ST. CLOUD – The St. Cloud Diocese has suspended all Masses through April 13. Bishop Donald J. Kettler made the announcement Tuesday afternoon. The decision, which is in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, is effective through Easter Monday. All Holy Week liturgies, including Good Friday, are canceled. 
            “All Catholics in the diocese remain dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass during this time,” Kettler said in a release.
            Kettler also gave a list of further details:
            - The diocese hopes to livestream the Chrism Mass via Facebook.
            - Baptisms should be rescheduled
            - Confirmations during this time period remain canceled and will be rescheduled.
            - A dispensation needs to be granted by the bishop should a wedding need to take place.
            - Funeral Masses during this time are prohibited; only graveside services are allowed. A memorial Mass should be scheduled for a later date after April 13.
             - Diocesan churches will remain open for prayer and the sacrament of reconciliation on a schedule determined by the pastor. Social distancing should be encouraged — at least 6 feet between people in prayer and waiting to receive the sacrament.
            - All parish events of 50 people or more should be canceled, per the guidelines of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This includes parish breakfasts and fish fries; drive-through and pick-up options only are acceptable. People who are at a higher risk for contracting the illness — the elderly and those with underlying health conditions — should avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.
            “While the threat in your community may not be readily visible, it is very real,” Kettler said. “I believe these steps are necessary during this national emergency to protect human life and uphold the common good — two foundational principles of Catholic social teaching. While it may seem counterintuitive, we stay in solidarity with one another at this time by staying apart.”
            According to the release, the diocese will continue to offer pastoral care through alternative methods, and he encouraged families to read and pray over Sunday scripture and watch Mass online at https://worship.stcdio.org/tv-mass. Staff is working on offering additional prayer and faith formation online opportunities for Holy Week. They will be publicized, including on the diocesan website at https://www.stcdio.org.
 

Local hotline established to answer COVID-19 questions

Public health asks for residents help to stop virus spread 
            ST. CLOUD – A local hotline number has been set up to answer questions related to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Stearns and Benton Counties established a joint hotline staffed by public health professionals.
            That hotline number is 320-656-6625 or 1-877-782-5683 and is answered 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Individuals can also call the Minnesota Department of Health hotline, which is staffed 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week, at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903.
            Meanwhile, Stearns County Public Health is asking every Stearns County resident to do their part to help fight the spread of COVID-19.
            The Centers for Disease Control and Minnesota Department of Health have provided guidelines to follow – measures to take at home, in schools, at childcare sites, at assisted living facilities, at workplaces, at healthcare settings, and in community and faith-based organizations.
            “We need everyone to follow the CDC and MDH recommended guidelines to help us manage the spread of the virus,” said Renee Frauendienst, Stearns County Public Health Division Director. “We cannot do it alone. This is going to take individuals, businesses, community organizations, our faith communities, all of us working together.”
            According to Stearns Public Health, everyone’s primary responsibility is to practice social distancing, stay home if they are sick, wash hands, cover coughs, avoid touching the face, clean frequently touched surfaces often, limit movement in the community, create a household plan of action in case of illness or disruption of activities in the community, and for communities and organizations to make temporary changes to events, operations and activities, and identify safe ways to serve those at high risk or vulnerable. Know the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and call your health care provider before going in if you are experiencing symptoms. Individuals with underlying medical conditions should consider staying at home and avoiding gatherings or other situations of potential exposures, including travel.
            The latest information, along with a complete list of the MDH and CDC guidelines to follow can be found on the Stearns County website, https://stearnscountymn.gov.
            There are three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Stearns County. All Stearns County cases are travel related, all are self-quaranting and are at home recovering.
 

UPS is following the guidance of global health

UPS is following the guidance of global health experts at the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We are reminding our employees about frequent hand washing, and we are regularly cleaning and disinfecting our facilities and equipment. Importantly, we are asking that our drivers, pilots, and other employees stay home from work if they feel sick. 

Many people are asking the same question: is it safe to receive and handle a shipment? The WHO and CDC have stated that the likelihood of catching the COVID-19 virus by touching cardboard or other another shipping container is low. 

From the outset, UPS has maintained delivery services except where limited by government restrictions. We have also worked in partnership with governments around the world to obtain exceptions that allow our shipments to continue in restricted areas. 

UPS has long been a trusted partner in communities around the world. As with other global humanitarian crisis events, we are helping with relief related to COVID-19 and will continue to seek opportunities to assist our communities in need. 

As this situation is evolving rapidly, we have created a web page with information on how UPS is responding to COVID-19 and tools you can use during this time.

The Sauk Rapids American Legion Post No. 254

The Sauk Rapids American Legion Post No. 254 has canceled its fish fry at the VFW, previously scheduled for Friday, March 20. Ticket holders are encouraged to hang onto their tickets for use when the event is rescheduled.
 

Bishop Kettler: Public Masses in diocese suspended through April 13

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
By Bishop Donald Kettler
After much prayer and consultation with members of my staff, and in light of the latest recommendations from state and federal health authorities for slowing the rapid spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and protecting the people of our communities, I have made the difficult decision to suspend all public weekday and weekend Masses in the Diocese of Saint Cloud, effective immediately through Easter Monday, April 13. All Catholics in the diocese remain dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass during this time.
Further:
  • I will celebrate the Chrism Mass privately with the deans. They will distribute the holy oils to the parishes in their deaneries at a later time. We hope to livestream the Mass on our diocesan Facebook page.
  • Baptisms should be rescheduled. If a wedding needs to take place, a dispensation needs to be granted by the bishop. Funeral Masses during this time are prohibited; only graveside services are allowed. A memorial Mass should be scheduled for a later date after April 13.
  • Confirmations during this time period remain cancelled. My office will contact parishes to reschedule.
  • All public Holy Week liturgies, including Good Friday services, are cancelled. For specific details regarding liturgies, pastors should consult the “Liturgical Guidelines During the Time of Suspension of Masses” provided by the diocesan Office of Worship.
  • Our churches will remain open for prayer and the sacrament of reconciliation on a schedule determined by the pastor. Social distancing should be encouraged — at least 6 feet between people in prayer and/or waiting to receive the sacrament.
  • All parish events of 50 people or more should be cancelled, per the guidelines of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This includes parish breakfasts and fish fries; drive-through and pick-up options only are acceptable. People who are at a higher risk for contracting the illness — the elderly and those with underlying health conditions — should avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.
  • If any changes to this approach are warranted in the next few weeks, I will notify pastors.
While the threat in your community may not be readily visible, it is very real. I believe these steps are necessary during this national emergency to protect human life and uphold the common good — two foundational principles of Catholic social teaching. While it may seem counterintuitive, we stay in solidarity with one another at this time by staying apart.
This outbreak has caused much fear and anxiety, and I share those same feelings. I haven’t experienced anything like this in my 50 years of priesthood. But we can take comfort in knowing that Jesus never leaves our side. He offers us the grace we need to make our way through this present challenge. “Take courage,” he reminds us. “It is I; do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27).
The measures we are taking don’t mean that we will stop providing pastoral care. My staff and I are committed to helping our parishes and the people of our diocese navigate through this crisis. It will require everyone — diocesan staff, pastors, lay staff and volunteers, parishioners of all ages — to be creative in how we might offer alternative prayer and faith enrichment opportunities, particularly during Holy Week. We must work to make Christ present in other ways in our homes and through our charitable efforts.
I encourage you — individually or as a family — to read and pray over the Sunday Scripture readings and watch our diocesan TV Mass. It is available online at http://worship.stcdio.org/tv-mass, where you will also find a list of channels on which it airs. My staff is working on additional prayer and faith formation opportunities that could be offered online during this holy season. These will be publicized in various ways, including on the diocesan website: www.stcdio.org.
I ask that you also take time to check in — by phone, email or social media — with family members, friends and neighbors, particularly those who are most vulnerable, to ensure they are well and have what they need. Please also continue to support your parish financially during this time. Parishes rely on your generosity to support their staff and ministries, and they need this support now more than ever.
Finally, please join me in praying for all those affected by this pandemic — those who are ill, their caregivers, health care workers, and public officials. We will get through this by patiently making sacrifices, loving our neighbor, and staying close to Christ in prayer. May this time without the celebration of the Eucharist instill in us an even greater appreciation for those times when we will again be gathered, nourished and sent.
I share with you the prayer that Archbishop Jose Gomez, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, recently shared, seeking the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe:
Holy Virgin of Guadalupe,
Queen of the Angels and Mother of the Americas.
We fly to you today as your beloved children.
We ask you to intercede for us with your Son,
as you did at the wedding in Cana.
Pray for us, loving Mother,
and gain for our nation and world,
and for all our families and loved ones,
the protection of your holy angels,
that we may be spared the worst of this illness.
For those already afflicted,
we ask you to obtain the grace of healing and deliverance.
Hear the cries of those who are vulnerable and fearful,
wipe away their tears and help them to trust.
In this time of trial and testing,
teach all of us in the Church to love one another and to be patient and kind.
Help us to bring the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.
We come to you with confidence,
knowing that you truly are our compassionate mother,
health of the sick and cause of our joy.
Shelter us under the mantle of your protection,
keep us in the embrace of your arms,
help us always to know the love of your Son, Jesus. Amen.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Donald J. Kettler
Bishop of Saint Cloud