Public health director: ‘Now is the time to prepare’

Published 8:00 pm Friday, February 28, 2020

By Albert Lea Tribune

Though the risk of coronavirus remains low for Minnesotans at this time, Freeborn County’s public health director advised residents Friday to prepare now in case an outbreak reaches the state.

Sue Yost said though there are no cases in Minesota and there is no evidence that novel coronavirus is widely circulating the country, this could change given new information about recent outbreaks in South Korea, Iran and Italy.

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Yost said Minnesota has “a strong and robust” public health system in place that includes hospitals, clinics and local public health. The department works with federal, state and local  health agencies and medical partners to quickly and effectively respond to any infectious disease that may be identified in the area.

“We continuously evaluate and modify plans designed to stop sustained transmission of communicable diseases,” she said in a press release.

As the situation continues to unfold, she said it is important for people to follow standard prevention practices to reduce the spread of contagious diseases, including influenza and COVID-19:

• Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

• Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Stay home from school, work and activities if you are ill.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects.

“There may be challenging times ahead, but if we all work together, and everyone does their part, we can significantly reduce the negative impacts and make it through the COVID-19 outbreak,” Yost said.

She suggested people familiarize themselves with and to use preparedness information there to ready their families and homes for response.