Blue Earth County urges residents to avoid gatherings of people from outside your household, wear a mask in public places and wash your hands frequently as ways to slow the rampant spread of COVID-19 in our area.

“Each of us can make choices to help reduce the number of positive cases and ultimately the number of deaths,” says Kelley Haeder, Public Health Supervisor.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases, the number of COVID-19-related deaths and the number of associated hospitalizations have all increased rapidly in the region over the last several weeks.

“Healthcare facilities, including hospitals, clinics and long term care sites, are being stretched; specifically because of the large number of their staff members who have come down with the virus,” says Eric Weller, Regional Healthcare Preparedness Coordinator for the South Central Healthcare Coalition. “That means not only are there fewer staff members to care for COVID-19 patients, but also for day-to-day patients such as those involved in motor vehicle crashes or those experiencing a heart attack.”

Weller and Haeder encourage people to stay home as much as possible, stay at least 6 feet from other people if you are in public places, tele-work if you can and avoid close contact with people who are sick. In addition, if you are 65 and older or have certain underlying medical conditions, stay at home and avoid situations where you could be exposed, including travel.

Details about the availability of an effective COVID-19 vaccine are still being worked out, but state and federal officials have expressed optimism that some vaccine may be available by the end of the year.