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State health officials said Friday they are monitoring two possible cases of coronavirus in Minnesota, and they outlined their plans to respond quickly to contain any infection here.

The virus poses a very low risk to Minnesotans as of now, but “we know that the potential for public concern is heightened when something has never been seen before and there are things that we don’t know about it,” State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm told reporters.

“We know that finding cases quickly and responding to them effectively is so very key,” Malcolm said. “That rapid response helps ensure that the ill persons receive the care that they need and it lessens the chance of other people getting sick, thereby containing the spread of the virus.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed two cases of the novel coronavirus in Seattle and...
Schools in at least 11 states have closed as the worst flu epidemic in nearly a decade intensifies.

The dominant strain of flu this season, H3N2, known for being particularly virulent, has resulted in the deaths of at least 37 children and is expected to cause more as the epidemic persists several more weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projected on Friday.

Seven children died this week, authorities said. Hospitalizations, a predictor of the death rate, rose to 41.9 people per 100,000, up from 36.9 the week before.

An estimated total number of deaths due to the flu won’t be available until next season, according to the CDC. Outpatient hospital visits by people with the flu have been skyrocketing for several weeks, and as of mid-January had surpassed every season except 2009-10, when a new strain of flu caused a global pandemic....
A 60-year-old Chicago woman who recently returned from a trip to China is the first person in the area confirmed to have contracted coronavirus, health officials said Friday.

The woman returned Jan. 13 from Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus outbreak is centered, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

She contacted a doctor a few days after her return, and tests confirmed she had coronavirus.

The patient has limited close contacts, all of whom are currently well and who will be monitored for symptoms. Since returning from China, the patient has had very limited movement outside the home, the CDC said.

“Importantly, at this time, public health officials do not advise of any imminent health risk to the public,” local health officials said.

The Illinois Department of Public Health and the Chicago Department of Public Health are investigating locations where this patient went after returning to Illinois and are identifying any close contacts who were possibly...