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Minnesota starts reacting to coronavirus threats


March 13, 2020

On the same day the World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus a pandemic, the NBA suspended all game play and the University of Minnesota decided to go to online classes, northern Minnesota still felt largely unaffected, with the exception of a severe lack of toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

As of Wednesday, the novel coronavirus had infected more than 120,000 people in over 100 countries, with three confirmed cases in Minnesota — Ramsey, Carver, and Anoka Counties — with one of the infected in critical condition. By Friday, March 13, there were 14, all associated with travel.

The effects of the virus began to make themselves known first through the colleges and universities on Wednesday.

The University of Minnesota leaders announced Wednesday, March 11, that the system is extending spring break (happening right now) at its campuses in Duluth, the Twin Cities and Rochester until Wednesday, March 18, and suspending all in-person instruction after that. Classes will resume either online or some other alternative method.

Also Wednesday, the College of St. Scholastica announced it will extend spring break for students until Friday, March 20, 2020. Beginning March 23, 2020 all classes will be offered in a virtual format.

Minnesota State Chancellor Devinder Malhotra announced Thursday that all Minnesota State colleges and universities will suspend classes an extra week following their spring break. At FDLTCC, that means classes will be suspended March 23-29 following spring break March 16-20. Additionally, Malhotra said all events or other gatherings totaling more than 100 attendees are cancelled until May 1, and the situation will be re-evaluated.

Here is a portion of Malhotra’s announcement: “... the 32 Minnesota State colleges and universities that are currently on Spring Break will suspend classes March 16-22, with classes resuming March 23. The five Minnesota State colleges that have Spring Break scheduled the week of March 16-20 will suspend classes March 23-29, with classes resuming March 30. While there will be no classes during each campuses’ extra week, administrators, faculty, and staff will spend that week exploring alternative modes of delivery and adjust campus learning spaces to ensure the safety of our communities. All campuses, including residence halls, dining facilities, and student support services will remain open and appropriately staffed, including student workers.”

Superintendents in the Cloquet and Wrenshall school districts updated their board members on preparations. Cloquet Superintendent Michael Cary said the district is being advised by both the Minnesota departments of health and education. In other matters, the schools are switching to a hospital-grade disinfectant for cleaning.

An email from the Carlton County Public Health and Human Services Department stressed that the county is ready and working with partners and the emergency preparedness coordinator to prepare the public for COVID-19, the disease resulting from infection by the coronavirus.

“Infectious disease preparedness and response plans exist for the county, and staff are trained for situations like this. County officials are ready to implement these plans, if the need arises,” the county update stated.

Public health nurses are encouraging people to take measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, influenza and other seasonal illnesses.

An ounce of prevention:

• Wash your hands with hot water and soap for 20 seconds of vigorous scrubbing. If soap and water are not available, the next best option is to use hand sanitizer.

• Cover your cough or sneeze

• Avoid touching your face

• Stay home if you are sick (with a fever, productive cough, body aches or sore throat)

• Consider keeping your distance from others


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