Olmsted County's COVID-19 spread hampers investigations

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Sep. 14—An increase in COVID-19 cases is straining Olmsted County Public Health resources, making it impossible for staff to investigate each individual case.

"Olmsted County staff has been conducting investigations for the entire duration of the pandemic," Public Health Director Graham Briggs said. "Moving forward, the county will frequently review prioritized groups and will conduct interviews based on case information from the community."

County residents with confirmed cases are being asked to help with reporting by completing a state interview form and contacting people who they might have infected.

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Public health workers faced a similar situation November, during the pandemic's largest local spike. At the time, the county had a seven-day rolling average of 125.1 new daily cases, which increased to 875 new cases in three days.

Data from the current COVID-19 spread in Olmsted County shows 287 new cases were confirmed during for the seven days ending Sunday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reports a 6 percent positivity rate for testing performed during the same period.

While county staff members are unable to call everyone with a confirmed COVID case, anyone testing positive who has a valid cell phone number on record will receive a text message linking to an online Minnesota Department of Health reporting tool. They will be asked to respond with their email address and will receive a case investigation interview form via email.

Anyone in the community who prefers to have an interview completed by Olmsted County staff can call 507-328-7500.

Olmsted County Public Health is asking anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 to:

— Stay home for at least 10 days since first experiencing symptoms. The quarantine should not end until being fever-free for at least 24 hours without medicine that reduces fevers and until symptoms have improved for at least 24 hours.

— Start a list of people you had contact with beginning two days before symptoms appeared, and contact anyone on the list to advise them of the potential exposure.

— Contact employers, schools or child care about the diagnosis.

— Avoid contact with others, even those in the same household.

— Seek professional medical care if needed by calling a healthcare provider or 911 for a medical emergency.

Anyone contacted regarding contact with someone with a confirmed COVID-19 case should stay home for 14 days from the last close contact, according to Olmsted County Public Health. "Close contact" has been defined as 15 minutes or more of direct engagement within a 24-hour period.

Anyone with a potential exposure, should also seek COVID-19 testing three to five days after they last had close contact.

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