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Brown County has no confirmed cases but testing info not public

NEW ULM — The daily COVID-19 situation update from the Minnesota Department of Health has shown that Brown County continues to show zero confirmed cases of the disease, even as cases appear in neighboring counties — Renville County has one case, Nicollet three, and Blue Earth five.

But people are wondering how many undetected cases there might be in Brown County. How many people have been tested, they ask. How many suspected cases are there, and have they been tested?

That kind of information is not available to the public. Brown County Public Health Director Karen Moritz said that kind of information is not given to her office, and is not being published by the Minnesota Department of Health. Health care facilities are not allowed to give out information about pending cases, she said. The only information available from MDH is how many confirmed cases there are in the state, and how many per county. The daily briefing from the state offers a few more details on how many people are hospitalized statewide, but that isn’t broken down to the county level.

Moritz said testing for the coronavirus is being restricted.

“The only testing currently being done is on those people who are hospitalized, ill health care workers, and people living in congregate living situations,” said Moritz in an email.

Members of the general public who show mild symptoms are not being tested. Moritz said there may be mild cases in Brown County that may not have identified as COVID 19, or some that are symptomatic and are following recommendations to stay home with any respiratory illness.

Moritz said people should follow the recommendations on the MDH website: practice social distancing if you need to leave your home, stay six feet from others, do not congregate in groups of 10 or more especially if you are elderly or have underlying health conditions; wash hands well (20 seconds per wash) and often, clean surfaces that are frequently touched; cover your cough or sneeze, and refrain from touching your face and mouth unless your hands have been washed.

STAY HOME WHEN YOU ARE SICK with symptoms of COVID 19 (any symptoms of respiratory illness) and seek health care only if you need it, but first go to the clinic’s website to try to get a virtual visit or call before you go to the clinic so they can provide instructions.

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