'This is unprecedented': Minnesota health officials stress seriousness of COVID-19

Minnesota health officials are urging everyone to take the COVID-19 outbreak seriously after the state confirmed it has at least 100 confirmed cases.

"To those who think, 'oh, it’s not a big deal'…this is unprecedented,” MDH Director of Infectious Disease Kris Ehresmann said. “They should take this social distancing message very seriously.”

According to offficials, there are at least 20 Minnesota counties with cases. Officials said that some of the cases were a result of community transmission. 

Officials say the patients range in age from 17-94.

After noting that the number of COVID-19 tests are in short supply and focused primarily on highest risk patients, Ehresmann said that employees should not require confirmation of COVID-19 for sick time. "The capacity is not there," she said. 

There is now another hotline set up by the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Education. It is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and can be reached at 1-800-657-3504. In the metro, you can call 651-297-1304. 

MDH said that if you are sick, stay home for at least seven days and at least three days without a fever (without fever-reducing medication.)

"People do not need to be tested for COVID-19 if they're in a situation where they'd be able to manage their symptoms at home; since there is no treatment for mild cases, there is no clinical decision that would be made based on the test result," MDH Director of Infectious Disease Kris Ehresmann said.


The virus that causes COVID-19 is spread primarily by respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza is spread. It can also spread when people touch surfaces that have been contaminated by an infected person and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth.

The Minnesota Department of Health stressed the importance of all Minnesotans continuing to do those things that can limit the spread of the coronavirus:

  • 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