One year ago, tomorrow, on February 26, 2020, Olmsted County Public Health activated the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), a small team of public health and county staff to start discussions regarding the global pandemic, COVID-19. At that time, nobody could have predicted the lasting impact the global pandemic was going to have on our world, country, state and county.
The first case of COVID-19 was announced in Olmsted County on March 11, 2020, just two weeks after the EOC for COVID-19 planning and response was established. The novel coronavirus had just been detected for the first time in the U.S. seven weeks earlier in Washington.
“Olmsted County is surrounded by a community of health and social services experts within the departments of Olmsted County and amongst external partners such as Mayo Clinic and Olmsted Medical Center. Living in the ‘Med City’ has greatly assisted in the local efforts this past year,” said Olmsted County Public Health COVID-19 Incident Commander Denise Daniels. “These internal and external relationships were well established prior to the start of COVID-19, which has ensured a trusting and solid foundation in our response efforts.”
Local response highlights
The following are some of the more noteworthy response efforts over the past year.
- Olmsted County is regularly collecting and analyzing local COVID data and sharing it on our website to provide residents and leaders with the most up-to-date information for decision making.
- We managed the opening of the Graham Park Collaborative Collection Site – the first community collaborative COVID-19 collection site in the state for COVID testing with Mayo Clinic and Olmsted Medical Center – that ran from March 23, 2020 through November 14, 2020. In that timeframe, testing was only closed for three days (May 25, July 3, and July 4). The most tests were conducted on November 8, 2020 (1,308 tests), and in total, 75,637 tests were completed.
- Olmsted County collaborated with the City of Rochester to establish the COVID-19 Community Call Center. To date, there have been 5,536 calls answered through that call center.
- We established robust teams and processes for local case contact investigations, monitoring, cluster control, and outbreak management to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to others. To date, the Olmsted County Case Investigation Team has conducted 8,694 interviews and has helped identify 18,403 close contacts.
- Olmsted County continues to collaborate with many regional businesses, health care agencies, school districts, non-profits, long-term care facilities, correctional health care officials, and others to provide consistent messaging of local efforts and clarification on the Governor’s Executive Orders as well as guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Department of Health.
- COVID-19 vaccine planning began in October with distribution beginning in late December 2020 and more than 25.3% of the Olmsted County population has received at least one dose of vaccine and 16.6% have completed the two-dose series.
“As we look back on this anniversary, it has been the relationships and collaboration with local organizations and health care agencies that have helped us mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” continued Daniels. “We are proud of the Olmsted County staff who have worked tirelessly over the past year during our longest running emergency response in our history. And, we are proud of our community for keeping the well-being of everyone in Olmsted County a priority.”