MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Department of Health on Saturday confirmed the state's first death due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Officials said a Ramsey County resident in their 80s died on Thursday, after starting to show symptoms on March 13 and being admitted to a hospital Monday. The person came in contact with an infected family member who had a history of international travel, said Kris Ehresmann, the department's infectious disease director.
“This individual did have underlying medical conditions in addition to the risk factor of age,” Ehresmann said of the person who died.
Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said the death underscores the importance of protecting the most vulnerable residents in the state, especially those over 65 and people with underlying health conditions. Residents have watched the death toll rise in other states and countries “but this strikes closer to home and closer to heart,” she said during a conference call.
Health officials said 137 people had tested positive for the virus as of Saturday afternoon. Six of them are currently hospitalized, including four in intensive care.
“So, we're seeing a shift towards a more severe disease in our hospitals, as well,” Malcolm said.
Gov. Tim Walz announced Saturday that small businesses in Minnesota are now eligible to apply for disaster assistance through the Small Business Administration to help offset economic hardship during the COVID-19 outbreak.
For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.
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