Updated: 5:02 p.m.
Minnesota health officials Tuesday said a third person in the state is believed to have COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The case involves an Anoka County resident in their 30s who was likely exposed through contact with international travelers. Health officials said the person was with those travelers while out of state, but within the United States. The patient is currently hospitalized in critical condition, the Minnesota Department of Health said.
The department is working with Anoka County officials to identify and contact anyone who may have come in contact with the infected person. Those people will be asked to quarantine themselves for 14 days from their exposure and will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms.
Officials are still investigating but because the person's health status, they have had to rely on information from their family, said Kris Ehresmann, the state's infectious disease director. Right now, officials do not believe the person had any underlying health problems prior to the infection.
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The patient developed flu-like symptoms when they visited a health facility on March 3 but, the symptoms didn't rise to the level of the person needing hospitalization or testing, officials said.
"The person sought health care, was evaluated and it was not appropriate for that person to be admitted. They were sent home because that's what their symptoms called for at that time," said Ehresmann.
The person sought health care again on Monday. Samples were collected and tested at the state Health Department lab, which found the positive result earlier Tuesday. The agency said it’s awaiting results of a confirming test from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but that officials here presume it is COVID-19.
Ehresmann said the person and their family “took great care to isolate, and that makes all the difference in the world for our work and the community.”
The Minnesota Department of Health has tested 135 patients to date, with three confirmed as positive for COVID-19. Nationwide, the virus has infected more than 800 people in the U.S. and killed at least 29.
Officials again emphasized the best way for the public to help at this point is to cover your coughs and sneezes, wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face and stay home and away from others if you feel sick.
On the same day the state confirmed its third case, Gov. Tim Walz signed a swiftly-passed $21 million bill to bolster the state's ability to manage the global coronavirus outbreak. The money, which the House and Senate unanimously approved Monday, raises Minnesota's available total to about $25 million. About $10 million is also on its way from a federal grant.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.