The Minnesota Department of Health reported 19 new cases of coronavirus in the state on Monday, March 16, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 54.

Gov. Tim Walz has called for the closure of bars and restaurants in the state in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, which represents family-owned bars and restaurants, asked the state for financial support to help business owners facing closures.

Residents of Blue Earth and Benton counties have tested positive for coronavirus for the first time, and Hennepin County is now home to the highest number of patients in the state. All of the newly identified patients are recovering at home.

At the time of an early-afternoon press conference on Monday, Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann could not say if any of the new cases reflected so-called "community spread" of the illness, a term for the confirmation of persons having contracted the illness without known exposure to individuals at heightened risk of the virus. On Sunday, health officials confirmed three cases of community spread within the state for the first time, citing new cases in Hennepin, Dakota and Ramsey counties.

South Dakota

The coronavirus was responsible for the death of a man diagnosed last week and the state has a confirmed 10th case of the virus, Gov. Kristi Noem announced.

The victim, a man in his 60s from Pennington County, died in Davison County from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, Noem said.

The man hadn't been in Pennington County for two weeks previous to his death, she said.

Around the region

  • The North Dakota Department of Health reported no new coronavirus cases Monday with 31 negative test results in the past two days.

  • Classes at South Dakota's public universities will go online-only March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

  • The Minnesota Legislature is set to take up an emergency funding measure for hospitals on Monday, March 16, before moving to remote work protocols for at least a month. Hospitals requested $100 million to help offset the cost of the expense to treat cases of COVID-19.

  • CenterPoint Energy on Monday joined Xcel Energy in a promise not to shut off service for past-due bill payments in light of economic uncertainty posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Together, the two utilities serve approximately 2.4 million customers.

  • A Minnesota bill proposes that rental property owners would not be able to file for eviction for 30 days in places where public health emergencies have been declared. Late fees on unpaid rent, meanwhile, could not be charged for 60 days.

  • Grand Casino began a temporary closure of Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Grand Casino Hinckley in the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19. Canterbury Park in Shakopee also announced that it was temporarily closing all of its operations.

  • Several Twin Cities firearms dealers and salespeople they’re struggling to replenish 9mm and 22-caliber rounds, the most common bullets for handguns and hunting rifles, respectively. “They’re closing all the schools, restaurants and bars, domestic airlines are talking about shutting down," said John Monson, who owns and operates Bill’s Gun Shop and Range. "People get a little nervous. The government tells you to be prepared to stay in your home for two weeks to a month; your natural instinct is self-defense.”

  • Minnesota State extended the closures of all of its 37 colleges and universities through next week.

  • The University of Minnesota is cancelling all in-person classes and activities on all campuses for the remainder of the spring semester, including graduation ceremonies.

  • Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Monday, March 16, said he was in discussions with public safety and judiciary officials to allow some nonviolent jail inmates out amid the coronavirus pandemic.

  • North Dakota K-12 students will not have to make up the five days of school canceled in response to the coronavirus pandemic., North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said Monday, March 16.

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