Koochiching County (copy)

With the first positive test in Koochiching County for the COVID-19 virus confirmed last week, Kathy LaFrance, county public health and human services director, and Derek Foss, county public health supervisor, provided more information Thursday about the case and how it is being handled.

Q: What law keeps the name of the person who tested positive private?

Public health: Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA. Minnesota Department of Health, MDH, does not release information on location or where the test took place because there is the potential for that person to be identified.

Q: Was the person who tested positive hospitalized?

Public health: Unknown at this time

Q: What is their likely exposure source? Travel from another state, community, travel outside the United States?

Public health: Unknown at this time

Q: Are the people the agency is contacting who had contact with the person being asked to self-isolate for a period? How long?

Public health: This would depend on what risk category MDH places them in during their contact investigation: high, medium, or low. The recommendations would come directly from MDH. If you are wondering what that means, the best information we can give you is from the CDC, as MDH is using this risk level for contact investigation. CDC information has to do with health care workers, but it is similar to what MDH is doing with their contact investigations. At this time, MDH has not provided documentation on how they are grading risk with non-health care workers. Look under the “Defining Exposure Risk” category.

Q: So, to be clear, when someone tests positive, they are in quarantine? When someone is suspected or may have been exposed, they self isolate?

Public health: The best way to answer this is with the definition of isolation and quarantine from the Department of Health and Human Services:

Isolation and quarantine are public health practices used to protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease.

  • Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.
  • Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. These people may have been exposed to a disease and do not know it, or they may have the disease but do not show symptoms

Q: Does the person who tested positive have underlying health complications?

Public health: Unknown at this time

Q: Age/sex of the person?

Public health: Unknown at this time

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