Guest Column: Stay safe and healthy, Freeborn and Mower

Published 8:14 pm Friday, June 12, 2020

Guest Column by Sue Yost, Lisa Kocer, Mark Ciota and Lori Routh

Sue Yost


As health and human services professionals, we have been watching and learning about COVID-19 since reports first emerged in late 2019 and early 2020. We have worked diligently to prepare our community for the impacts of this disease. And while we have flattened the curve so that our supplies were not depleted and our facilities were not overwhelmed, we have not seen the last of COVID-19. In fact, as has been reported by the Minnesota Department of Health and in the media, the rate of infection is increasing in our communities. Even with summer here and more openings, COVID-19 is still in our community, and it is up to each one of us to continue to keep each other safe and healthy.

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We are glad that more businesses are able to get back to work. We applaud the efforts to adapt to this new reality and adopt new practices. Hand washing, maintaining appropriate distance from others and wearing a mask when you are in public are proven ways to reduce the spread. Even under ideal circumstances, this highly infectious disease will move from one person to another. That is why it is important that if you do experience any of the symptoms, you should call your health care provider and ask for a COVID-19 diagnostic test.

Lisa Kocer

The vast majority of people who test positive for COVID-19 are able to recover at home and do not need to go to the hospital. But, if you test positive, stay home so you do not spread the infection. Even if the test is negative, if you do not feel well, stay home and limit your interactions with others until you feel better. Self-isolation, staying at home away from others and quarantining people in your home is not always easy. The public health department is able to help with essential services where needed.

We look forward to life resuming in ways we all enjoy. It is important to know that we all do better when we each do our part. Thank you for being considerate and practicing these simple ways to keep our community healthy and strong.

Please practice the following in order to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities:

Mark Ciota

• Wear a mask in public: I wear a mask to protect you. You wear a mask to protect me.

• Keep your physical distance: Six feet or about two arms’ lengths apart from other people.

• Wash your hands with soap: simple and effective.

• Stay home if you do not feel well.

• Get a test if you have COVID -19 symptoms. Call your local health care provider to schedule a test.

• Self-isolate if you have been around someone who is sick or tested positive.

• If you can’t go to work, talk to your employer.

Lori Routh

• If you have been instructed to stay in isolation or quarantine due to COVID, and you need help with essential services to help you be able to stay at home, call your local public health department.

There are many resources for employers, workers and communities, including resources in different languages, to provide you with additional education and information about COVID-19:

• Freeborn County Public Health Department:

• United Way of Freeborn County:

• Mower County Health and Human Services:

• United Way of Mower County:

• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

• Minnesota Department of Health:

• Mayo Clinic Health System COVID-19 website:

• Mayo Clinic News Network:

• Mayo Clinic Health System Facebook:

Stay safe Minnesota. Stay safe, Freeborn and Mower counties.

Sue Yost is the director of Freeborn County Public Health.

Lisa Kocer is the director of Mower County Health and Human Services.

Mark Ciota is CEO of Mayo Clinic Health System Albert Lea and Austin.

Lori Routh is nurse administrator of Mayo Clinic Health System Albert Lea and Austin.