St. Louis County Officials Confirm First Coronavirus Case in the County

Officials said it is a woman in her late 60s, who contracted the virus via domestic travel.

DULUTH, Minn.- Officials have announced the first confirmed COVID-19 case in St. Louis County. Along with one in Bayfield County and one in Douglas County, the total cases in the Northland are now three.

According to County officials, the patient in St. Louis County has not had contact with anyone outside her close relatives and is recovering at home.

“While we do have our first case in St. Louis County, we know this was coming, we’re not particularly surprised by it, and we’re prepared to manage it,” said Dr. Nick Van Deelen, Vice President of Medical Affairs at St. Luke’s.

Officials are not releasing what city or town in Saint Louis County the infected individual lives in.

We do know that the patient is a woman in her late 60s, and was tested on March 17th. Her infection is linked to domestic travel.

But officials are not adding domestic travel to the list of criteria for getting tested.

“We know that we have community spread in multiple areas across the United States,” Dr. Van Deelen said. “Because of the limitations on testing, it is not within the category that would prompt us to test. We may still think: ‘yeah, that’s a person with COVID-19,’ but we’re gonna treat them the same way.”

Currently you can be tested if you are sick enough to be admitted in the hospital with a respiratory illness, if you are a healthcare worker or first responder and you are sick, or if you live with many others in a setting like a nursing home or group home.

“Because there are, there is a lack of testing, we are looking at other methods to understand the burden of respiratory illness in our county and in our region,” said Amy Westbrook, Director of the St. Louis County Public Health Division.

Right now the shortage of tests, officials said, is due to the shortage of re-agents, or the chemicals needed to perform the tests, at their labs. This is why there is a longer turnaround time to get results.

Despite the first case arriving in the county, officials suspect many untested people have the virus, with varying degrees of symptoms.

“This Coronavirus, the vast majority will be fine,” Dr. Van Deelen said. “They’ll have symptoms like a really bad cold and some will have symptoms that won’t be like much.”

Above all, County leaders said not to panic.

“I know there is fear in our community, but I know we have a very strong community,” said 2nd District St. Louis County Commissioner Patrick Boyle. “We are working around the clock to keep our community safe.”

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