Dakota County is working with local, state and federal health officials in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak that has infected more than 80,000 people worldwide. There have been 14 confirmed cases in the United States, but none in Minnesota.
“We are closely monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak," said Christine Lees, Dakota County Public Health's disease prevention and emergency preparedness supervisor. “We have several plans in place to respond to COVID-19 if we have a confirmed case in the county."
Dakota County Public Health and Emergency Preparedness has activated a system that assigns emergency roles to staff and involves regular meetings to share COVID-19 updates. County staff are also communicating with the Minnesota Department of Health and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Health care providers in the county are screening patients for signs and symptoms of the virus. All suspected virus specimens are sent to the state Health Department and the CDC for testing. There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19.
“We know that this outbreak is scary and that many people are wondering what they can do to keep themselves and their loved ones safe," Lees said. “It's a good idea to talk with children, spouses and grandparents now to discuss what you would do if one of you were sick."
Despite not having any cases in Minnesota, health officials recommend individuals and families make a plan in case someone gets sick. They also suggest following the same steps for avoiding the flu:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap
- Cover your cough
- Stay home from work or school when you're sick
Visit www.cdc.gov and www.health.state.mn.us for more information about COVID-19.