Two laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 among Crow Wing County residents were reported Wednesday, April 1.

The confirmations mark the first cases officially recorded in the county. Crow Wing County Public Health issued a news release Wednesday morning reporting one positive result, with Cuyuna Regional Medical Center reporting a second case.

The Minnesota Department of Health informed the county of the first confirmed case late Tuesday. The resident is a man in his 20s and the case doesn’t appear to be travel related. The individual is isolated at home with home contacts.

“We take this very serious and are mobilizing efforts to decrease exposure to others in the community,” stated Crow Wing County Public Health Supervisor Michelle Moritz, in the release. “Communicating with other counties that have already had cases of COVID-19 has provided valuable information and great resources for us as we move forward to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Crow Wing County. I want to remind people to please stay home, use e-visit and phone triage being offered by our health care facilities and continue to practice good hand washing.”

The second reported infected individual sought health care at CRMC, according to the hospital’s news release. They are isolated and will remain so until cleared by public health officials, CRMC reported. Peggy Stebbins, CRMC spokeswoman, stated she was unable to confirm an approximate age or the suspected mode of transmission to protect patient privacy. That information is expected to be made available through county or state government when possible. Stebbins did, however, confirm the case is separate from the one reported by Crow Wing County Wednesday morning.

CRMC stated it is well prepared and is continuing to take every precaution to ensure the health and safety of all patients, providers and staff. All people entering CRMC’s facilities are being screened, visitors are restricted and a special Respiratory Clinic with a separate entrance was developed to treat patients with COVID-19 symptoms. Virtual visits are being offered as well free phone visits with a nurse. Nurses will screen and evaluate respiratory symptoms and concerns related to COVID-19. No appointment is necessary, and all are welcome to call 218-546-7000.

“CRMC recognizes and is grateful for the commitment and compassion our staff are showing in caring for all patients,” said CEO Kyle Bauer. “I just want to thank all of them, not just for the current situation, but the dedication and compassion they demonstrate every single day and I know we will get through this together.”

In both cases, the Minnesota Department of Health is working closely with the patient, their close contacts and health care providers to monitor people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and follow guidelines regarding follow up and isolation. People identified will be asked to quarantine themselves for 14 days from their exposure date and will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms.

In its daily coronavirus update Wednesday, the Minnesota Department of Health reported one of those cases, but an MDH spokeswoman noted cases often take a few days to appear on statewide results.

While these cases represent those confirmed via laboratory tests, state officials have repeatedly warned actual case numbers are likely much higher and residents should assume the novel coronavirus is circulating within their communities.

An earlier case of COVID-19 confirmed in Crow Wing County was an individual who did not live in Crow Wing County but was in the area temporarily as a short-term client of Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge. Mary Brown, vice president of marketing for Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge, reported the client arrived at the facility about two weeks prior and was not symptomatic at the time. He will be counted in a different county in Minnesota and is at home there in quarantine.

Symptoms, recommendations and resources

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 sick.

  • Cover coughs and sneezes with an elbow or a tissue.

  • Wash hands frequently for 20 seconds with soap and water.

  • Avoid touching the face.

The Minnesota Department of Health has set up COVID-19 hotlines available every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.:

  • School and childcare questions: 651-297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504.

  • Health questions: 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903.

Visit cdc.gov and health.state.mn.us for more information about COVID-19.

As a public service, we’ve opened this article to everyone regardless of subscription status. If this coverage is important to you, please consider supporting local journalism by clicking on the subscribe button in the upper righthand corner of the homepage.