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Public Health Corner: We really are ALL in this together!

October 1, 2020 Brown County exceeded 200 cases of confirmed COVID-19 among residents since the first reported case in March.

School has started, fall sports are expanding to include football and volleyball, annual fall celebrations, such as Oktoberfest, are occurring and holidays are right around the corner. As it gets colder we will be doing more inside which is considered a higher risk for the transmission of COVID-19. As people gather, especially in large groups, there is more spread of the disease.

The case count has been increasing across the country, the state, and locally in Brown County. COVID-19 may not be a serious illness for everyone but it can be a very serious illness including causing death for some people. It is showing that there are long term residual effects for some people as well. It is hard to know who will experience serious illness. People over 65 and those with underlying health conditions are more prone to serious illness. In the United States over a third of the population is included in that category.

Many Brown County residents have been doing their part every day and making a lot of sacrifices along the way. Businesses, schools, healthcare, public health staff, media, long term care, non-profit organizations, to name a few, have been using the guidance available from the Minnesota Department of Health and are working to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, school, and in the community.

It is extremely important that everyone take the protective recommendations seriously to reduce COVID-19 transmission. Brown County Public Health has some important recommendations for the residents of Brown County. In order to keep students in school and our businesses open we all need to work together to make that happen.

Businesses, work places, and organizations have put together COVID-19 plans to help protect the customers and the public. They are working hard to have events and stay open by following safe COVID-19 practices. In order for events to happen, and businesses to stay open, everyone needs to respect the preparedness plans they have put in place to ensure safety measures are met.

If your business or organization is planning a celebration or an event please refer to the guidance that is available to design the event according to the governor’s orders and the guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health. Brown County Public Health is happy to help sort through that guidance with you to help you develop a COVID-19 preparedness plan to make your event fun but also a safe environment for everyone. Links to guidance are at: https://staysafe.mn.gov/ https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/guidance.html.

Fortunately, the case count in Brown County late in August was low enough to allow schools to open in person, or in person for elementary and hybrid for 7th-12th grade. In order for that to continue the community needs to work to keep that case count down so we can keep those education models in place. Schools have plans in place to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the school but community members, families, and students need to continue to follow COVID-19 recommendations outside of school as well to reduce the transmission in the schools.

The holidays are quickly approaching and the likelihood of COVID-19 elimination by then is very low. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) and the Minnesota Department of Health have put out guidance and recommendations for safe holiday practices. Unfortunately, holidays will not look the same during a pandemic. The guidance explains which activities are the highest risk from an epidemiological standpoint and recommend that lower risk activities are planned instead.

The guidance for Halloween and other general holiday guidance can be found at https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/holidays.html#halloween

Remember these very important COVID-19 prevention strategies and practice them daily:

• 6 foot social distancing,

• staying home when sick,

• wearing a mask when inside in public and outside if you cannot social distance

• wear a mask over your nose AND mouth

• If your healthcare provider has told you not to wear a mask due to health problems please consider wearing a face shield

• diligent hand hygiene and cleaning of high touch surfaces

Following all of the protective recommendations is the best and most effective way to slow the spread of disease in our communities. Please do your part.

Finally, with many unknowns in regards to schools reopening and fall viral illnesses, particularly influenza season, it will be of the utmost importance for the community members to receive their flu shots this year, and the earlier the better. Flu shots are available at your healthcare provider office, work places, and pharmacies. No insurance? Contact Brown County Public Health at 507-233-6820.

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