Learn more about Olmsted County Public Health's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 Community Hotline
Monday - Saturday: 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.
** NOTICE **
Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced updated quarantine guidance on December 7, 2020. The new guidance can be found on Close Contacts and Tracing. We are working to update other areas of the website, documents, and other materials as quickly as possible.
For the most current information on COVID-19, view the COVID-19 Dashboard.
(Please note that the best viewing experience for the COVID-19 dashboard is in non-mobile browsers: Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Safari.)
COVID-19 message from Olmsted County Director of Public Health - January 6, 2021
Feels like it’s been a few weeks since I’ve said hello so I wanted to give everyone an update and let everyone know where we’re at with the pandemic here locally.
It’s been a rough month - December - both here in Olmsted and for the nation overall. Nationally, we’re seeing about 200,000 cases confirmed every day and about 2,600 deaths every day on average across the country, which is way too much. We’re over 350,000 deaths in the nation now associated with the pandemic. We’ve had a really difficult phase here over the last four to six weeks here as a country.
Looking locally, we are seeing overall, our cases starting to go down. We’ve seen a little increase lately associated with a couple of outbreaks and probably some Christmas activity and gatherings, but I’m hopeful that overall our trend is going to continue to go down like it’s been doing since the middle of November. That reflects a similar pattern to what we’re seeing in Minnesota and the midwest. While that’s good news for the midwest and the people here and around us, we have seen the virus move into other areas of the country, like California, Arizona, and Tennessee, and are seeing a lot of activity in those areas, unfortunately. As a nation, we’re still going through a really difficult phase here.
Looking locally at Olmsted County, while our cases are going down it looks like hospitalizations are starting to trend down too, which is good news. The lagging indicator here is the deaths. We unfortunately saw 26 deaths to this point that we’ve counted in Olmsted County residents over the last month. We probably have a couple more here to count as investigations wrap up, but it’s easily the deadliest month that we’ve seen during the pandemic. But if these case counts and hospitalizations continue to decrease, I’m hopeful that we’re peaking with our deaths too and we’ll see that go back down. That’s way more deaths and hospitalizations than any of us would like to see, and it has been very difficult for a lot of families in this community, we finally do have this light at the end of the tunnel now.
For the first time today I was able to talk to our county board about some data coming in about vaccinations. As a country, vaccines are being pushed out all over. In Minnesota, about 1.4% of the population has received a vaccine, that’s about 80,000 people across the state that have now been vaccinated. Here in Olmsted County we’ve vaccinated about 4% of our entire population with one dose of vaccine, which is a little bit higher than the rest of the state since we’ve got a higher proportion of medical staff.
We’ve been doing some vaccination through the health department. We’ve done some ambulance crews and emergency medical staff, so we’ve been involved in this as well. Some of those people that are at the highest risk of either being exposed or having a severe disease now are getting protected in our community, and that’s a substantial step.
Now having said that, it’s going to take months to get vaccines available to everybody that wants it, but we’ve started on that path now of getting our community protected from this, so hopefully as we see vaccinations increase, we’re going to see cases and hospitalizations and deaths continue to decrease and work our way out of this pandemic through this first half of 2021.
Hang in there, folks, we’re on our way to the end of this, but we need you to wear your mask, stay away from gatherings of people. We’ve got high number of cases going here locally. Stay safe out there; you’re getting close to having a vaccine available to you.
Find resources and help
Click the image below to view local resources.
Are you experiencing a mental health crisis or emergency?
Contact 1-844-CRISIS2 or text HOME to 741741
- Johns Hopkins Coronavirus COVID-19 dashboard
- MN Department of Health
- Centers for Disease Prevention and Control
- Mayo Clinic
- Olmsted Medical Center
- Holiday Guidance
- Travel Resources
- Make a Plan, MN! Plan. Prepare. Share.
- MDH low-cost health care or get health insurance
- Social Distancing: Apps for Seniors
Olmsted County social media
- Olmsted County Public Health Facebook page
- Olmsted County YouTube Channel
- Olmsted County Facebook page
- Olmsted County Twitter
- Olmsted County Instagram
Stop the spread
The situation in Minnesota is undeniably better than it was last month. We are continuing to see progress. We can be optimistic. Recognizing the progress made, Governor Walz has announced measures that loosen restrictions on important parts of daily life while urging Minnesotans to protect the progress we’ve made. The dials are being adjusted and more businesses and activities are opening up.
- Bars and restaurants can open at 50 percent capacity, with a maximum of 150 people. Parties of no more than six people must remain six feet from other parties; bar seating is open to parties of two; reservations are required; and establishments must close by 10 p.m.
- Gym capacity remains capped at 25 percent but maximum capacity increases to 150. Machines and people should maintain 9 feet of distance. Classes increase to 25 people, assuming distancing can be observed. Everyone must be masked.
- Outdoor events and entertainment continue at 25 percent capacity, but maximum capacity increases to 250 people. Social distancing is required.
- Indoor events and entertainment – like bowling alleys, movie theaters, and museums – may open at 25 percent, or no more than 150 people. Masks required. No food service after 10 p.m.
- Youth and adult organized sports have resumed practice as of January 4 and games resume January 14 with spectators. Inter-region tournaments and out of state play are discouraged.
- Pools opened January 4 for some activity and may now open, like gyms, at 25 percent capacity.
- Wedding receptions and other private parties may resume with limits. If food and drink are served then, like other social gatherings, they are limited to two households or 10 people indoors and 3 households or 15 people outdoors. If there is no food or drink, they are covered by indoor event venue guidelines. Any related ceremony – like a wedding or funeral – is guided by rules for places of worship.
- Places of worship remain open at 50% capacity but without an overall maximum capacity.
For more information, visit the Stay Safe MN website.
Vaccine is here, yet the demand far outweighs the supply. Whether or not you've been vaccinated, we all need to continue doing the following:
Stay home: If you leave your home, do it for the essentials – your job (unless you can work from home), groceries/meals, medical appointments, the pharmacy, and nothing else. Cancel or postpone travel and social gatherings.
Limit your interactions with people you do not live with: You can still support local businesses by ordering take-out, picking up items curbside, or having items delivered to your home. Avoid businesses or locations that are not following recommendations on masks, physical distancing, and capacity limits.
Wear a mask when outside your home: Your mask protects me, and my mask protects you.
Practice physical distancing: Stay six feet apart from others when interacting.
Wash your hands frequently: avoid touching your face. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
Get tested. Know your status: Call your health care provider or nurse triage line to get tested if you have symptoms or have had close contact with a positive case. You need to quarantine while you wait for your test results.
Get your flu shot -- it's not too late. The flu shot does not protect against COVID-19, but by protecting you from the flu, we keep the number of people needing hospitalizations due to flu down.
Be a leader in your circle: Talk to your friends and family about the importance of these safety precautions. Have the courage to challenge misinformation and share helpful resources.
The CDC provides guidance for employers, communities, and individuals about what they can do to help slow or stop the spread of COVID-19.
Face masks required
As of July 25, 2020, per the Governor's Executive Order 20-81, people in Minnesota are required to wear a face-covering in all indoor businesses and public indoor spaces, unless alone. Additionally, workers are required to wear a face-covering when working outdoors in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained. Research has shown that the use of face coverings can greatly reduce the risk of infection when combined with other prevention efforts such as social distancing and hand hygiene.
For more information about face coverings and the Executive Order, please see the Frequently Asked Questions About the Requirement to Wear Face Coverings.
Olmsted County remains committed to sharing timely and credible information with the media to keep the public informed. Please be advised that with the rapidly changing nature of this event, we are doing our best to stay updated ourselves. Please reach out to us via our email inbox if you have specific questions or concerns about the information on our website, social media, or other platforms.
Email box for media
Please direct all media requests and inquiries to this central mailbox at Olmsted County: email@example.com. This box is being monitored closely and is the best way to reach us in a timely fashion. The exception would be any circumstance where a specific contact name is listed on a press release. In those cases, you may reach out to that specific contact directly.
Media guidelines for interviews
Interviews may be conducted face-to-face if physical distancing can be achieved or remotely if this is not achievable; 24-hour advance notice is appreciated.
Media briefings: Olmsted County Public Health is committed to providing current information for our media partners. In order to join the media briefings, you must be invited to an online meeting that now occurs on Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. This virtual briefing is for media members only.
If you wish to be invited, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for access.
Please be sure to check our social media sites for additional information:
- Olmsted County Public Health Facebook page
- Olmsted County Facebook page
- Olmsted County Twitter
- Olmsted County Instagram
The Community Testing Collaborative, formerly known as the Graham Park Collaborative COVID-19 Testing Site, has transitioned to two indoor locations for the winter months. The location where patients will be seen will depend on whether they are Mayo Clinic patients or Olmsted Medical Center patients
1. Do not go to ta COVID-19 testing location without an appointment call first
Mayo Clinic patients
Mayo Clinic patients call the COVID-19 Nurse Line at 507-293-9525.
Olmsted Medical Center patients
Olmsted Medical Center patients call the COVID-19 Nurse Line at 507-292-7266. Hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
People should not go to a COVID-19 testing location without an appointment.
If people do not have a primary care provider but are in need of testing, they should call either of the COVID-19 triage lines provided above. If people do not have insurance and are unable to cover the test cost, they should inquire about billing options when they call.
2. At the time of your appointment come to the testing site
Mayo Clinic patients
Olmsted Medical Center patients
Bring with you
- A cell phone (you will need it to check in from your car)
- Your medical insurance information (if you have it)
3. Stay in your car
- After you arrive, stay in your car.
- Call from your car to check in for your appointment.
- Mayo Clinic appointments, call 507-422-52450
- Olmsted Medical Center appointments call the phone number that is displayed on a banner across the windows of the building.
- Wait in your car for a text message or phone call telling you that you can enter the building.
4. If you do not have health insurance
- Tell the person when you make the appointment They can give you information about billing options.
You can also find out more information on the MN COVID-19 Response website About COVID-19 Testing Costs page.
Additional Testing Options
In addition to the Community Testing Collaborative between Olmsted County Public Health, Olmsted Medical Center and Mayo Clinic, there are other options available for COVID-19 testing.
Community Health Services (aka Migrant Health)
Appointments are required – call 507-529-0503 to schedule a time
Hy-Vee – 2 locations in Olmsted County
Register online: www.hy-vee.com/my-pharmacy/services/covid-19-testing
Online Order MDH-Vault
Test kit is shipped directly to your home via expedited shipping. Follow instructions closely: www.learn.vaulthealth.com/state-of-minnesota/
Test results are typically available within 48 hours, however, it could be longer depending on the volume of tests coming through. You will be contacted by a care provider and Olmsted County Public Health be sent the name and contact information of positive cases that live in Olmsted County for follow-up. Due to the high number of positive cases, there may be a delay in Public Health connecting with you. In the meantime, we ask that you alert family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues you have interacted with recently and let them know they should quarantine for 14 days. When we call, please answer and talk to our staff about your recent contacts and get answers to your questions. It is important that people follow the guidance provided by Public Health and their care provider for the health and safety of the community.
What to do if you test positive
*IMPORTANT NOTE: Olmsted County Public Health continues to contact all individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and their contacts. Individuals may receive a text, phone call and/or email from us. Please answer when we call or call us back at the number provided. In the meantime, you can help prevent further spread of COVID-19 and keep others safe and healthy.
Cases are asked to personally notify anyone they have had close contact with about their positive test result and direct their contacts to quarantine and follow the recommendations. This notification should be shared with any person you had contact with while they had symptoms AND during the 48 hours before symptoms developed or testing positive for COVID-19 if no symptoms.
1. Stay home and isolate immediately
- Separate yourself from others inside your home, including animals, as much as possible.
- Do not go to work, school, or other public areas.
- Avoid using public transportation.
- Restrict activities outside of your home, except to get medical care.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. If you can't wash your hands, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Rub hands together until dry. Manage your COVID-19 symptoms at home
A person with COVID-19 is considered to be contagious starting from 2 days before they became sick (or 2 days before they tested positive if they never had symptoms) until all three of these things are true:
- You feel better and
- Your cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms are better and
- It has been 10 days since you first felt sick and You have had no fever for at least 24 hours, without using medicine that lowers fevers.
2. Let others know you are positive
- Figure out the calendar date of two days before your first symptoms. (For example, if your headache/fever started December 5, then write down the date December 3.)
- Write down everyone that you had contact with between the date you wrote down and now.
- Call these people and let them know you are COVID positive.
- Tell your employer, school, or child care center about your diagnosis, even if you didn't personally go to these places. (Someone in your household could be COVID-19 positive and not know it.)
- You can anonymously tell your close contacts by visiting TellYourContacts.org to send a text or email to those who need to know.
3. Avoid other people, even those in your household
- If you have to be around other people or pets, such as sharing a room or vehicle, or before entering a health care provider's office, wear a face covering or mask.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw away in a lined trashcan. Wash hands thoroughly afterward. Soap and water are best.
- Avoid sharing personal household items like dishes and glasses, or bedding.
- Clean all "high touch" surfaces every day, such as counters, tables, doorknobs, light switches, bathroom fixtures, phones, and keyboards.
4. Seek help if you need it
- If you are having a medical emergency, call 911. Notify dispatch that you have tested positive for COVID-19.
- Monitor your symptoms at home and call before visiting your doctor. If you have an appointment, please tell them you have tested positive for COVID-19.
- In general, people can stop isolating 10 days after their symptoms started if they have been fever-free for at least 24 hours and their symptoms are improving. The last day for isolation for someone who never had symptoms is 10 days after their positive test.
5. Complete the reporting form
Olmsted County Public Health needs this information to track the disease. With this information, we can help control the spread.
6. Your isolation is over when
You and those in your household who are COVID-19 positive have been fever free for at least 24 hours, WITHOUT using medicine that reduces fevers.
Your other symptoms have improved for at least 24 hours.
At least 10 days have passed since you first had symptoms
What to do if you are exposed
You have been exposed to COVID-19 if:
- You were closer than six feet for more than 15 minutes of someone who tests positive for COVID, starting from 2 days before they felt sick until now.
- You were closer than six feet for more than 15 minutes of someone who tests positive for COVID, starting from 2 days before they tested positive if they don’t feel sick until now.
- Someone in your household has COVID, even if they don’t feel sick.
You can still have COVID-19 if you do not have symptoms.
You can still infect others with COVID-19 if you do not have symptoms.
Keep in mind
We continue to reach out to all COVID-19 cases and their contacts, yet at times we may need to focus on contacting those that are at greatest risk. We need your help to keep our community safe.
If this is a medical emergency call 911.
1. Stay home
Beginning with the last day your were exposed, stay home for 14 days. Do not go to work, school, or childcare. Avoid ALL public places for 14 days.
To request a letter of excuse for school, work, childcare or sports activity use the online form.
2. Self Monitor
- shortness of breath
- any new symptoms
3. Get tested
- If you show symptoms, get tested immediately.
- If you do not show symptoms, get tested five days or more after exposure.
If your test is negative
And you’ve been in contact with someone who has COVID-19:
If you had close contact with a person with COVID-19 (an exposure), you need to stay home and away from others (quarantine).
- COVID-19 can take up to 14 days to make you sick, and some people with COVID-19 never feel sick, so you need to separate yourself from others so you don’t spread the virus without knowing it.
- The safest option is to stay home and away from others for 14 days. In certain situations, you may end your quarantine after 10 days, or after seven days with a negative COVID-19 PCR test result (not antibody/blood or antigen). You cannot end your quarantine before seven days for any reason.
And you have symptoms:
Talk to your doctor and follow their advice. If there is not another diagnosis, you should still stay away from work, school, and other public places until you’re feeling better and have no fever. Symptoms of COVID-19 can be similar to other illnesses, like flu, and the risk of spreading these illnesses to others in your community can be high.
And you do not have symptoms:
Continue to protect yourself by using social distancing and frequent hand-washing, and by wearing a mask when you’re out in public. Get tested again if you develop symptoms or have contact with someone with COVID-19.
4. For more information
COVID-19 Community Hotline
Monday - Saturday 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.
When your organization has a positive case
Olmsted County Public Health seeks to partner with organizations impacted by positive cases and clusters of cases to prevent further spread. Due to the volume of cases in Olmsted County we are providing online tools to assist your organization and to help us understand how to best provide support.
Keep in mind
A close contact is anyone who was within 6 feet of the positive person for 15 minutes or longer over a 24-hour period. This includes cumulative time. (For example: "Employee A" had three separate interactions, each five minutes long with "Employee B" who was infectious during a shift. Thus, "Employee A" is a close contact.)
If this is a medical emergency, call 911.
1. Be Transparent
Make staff aware of what has happened and what is being done to protect them. This may include policy changes, modifications of work assignments, virtual meetings, and additional disinfection among others. (Do NOT disclose the names of anyone who has tested positive.)
2. Remain diligent - allow infected staff to stay home
All individuals who are positive need to isolate at home for 10 days from the start of symptoms.
If they do not have symptoms, it will be 10 days from their positive test.
COVID positive individuals must stay home until all three of these things are true:
- The person feels better (the case’s cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms are better) and
- It has been 10 days since the person first felt sick, and
- The person has no fever for at least 24 hours, without using medicine that lowers fevers.
3. Conduct an internal contact tracing investigation
Interview the positive individual to determine who were their close contacts
4. Tell close contacts to self-quarantine 14 days
Close contacts should be told to self-quarantine for 14 days even if they test negative anytime during the quarantine. A negative test result DOES NOT mean come back to work.
The safest option for close contacts is to stay home (including work, school, activities) and away from others for 14 days. In certain situations, close contacts may end their quarantine after 10 days, or after seven days with a negative COVID-19 PCR test result (not antibody/blood or antigen). Close contact’s quarantine cannot end before seven days for any reason.
Close contacts MUST complete quarantine, negative result or not.
5. Complete the business reporting form
Complete the online Olmsted County Public Health Services Business COVID-19 Positive Case Reporting form.
6. For more information