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Martin County has 4 COVID-19 cases

FAIRMONT — The number of COVID-19 cases in Martin County has increased to four, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. This is up from two earlier in the week.

Tim Langer, public health sanitarian for Martin and Faribault counties, said Friday it is his understanding that two of the cases involve people who are hospitalized while two others are recovering at home.

“It’s been confirmed that we have community spread in Martin County,” Langer noted.

He said this means there are cases in which individuals have contracted the virus but they had not traveled or been in contact with someone with a known case.

“In terms of where this goes, we have to just go day by day,” Langer said. “I think that it’s likely [the cases] will increase. That’s where we’re at right now, and we just need to take the same precautions that we have been taking.”

He mentioned social distancing, hand washing and not going out in public unless absolutely needed for necessities.

One question that has arisen among the public is whether data about who has the virus should be available, since people wonder whether they have come into contact with an infected person. Health laws, however, grant patients the right to privacy, which guides public officials actions.

On the other hand, the Minnesota Department of Health follows up on COVID-19 cases. It performs “contact tracing,” or discussions with individuals who are ill to ask them who they have been in close contact with, Langer said.

“The idea there is to then contact those individuals, and the [Centers for Disease Control] has a risk-assessment tool they use,” he said. “It’s a way of leading us down the path to whether this person has no identifiable risk, is a low risk, medium risk or high risk.”

Langer reiterated that now is the time to “prepare and not panic.”

“This is going to be a longer-term event; it’s not something that’s going to be done within a week,” he said. “In order to get through this, we need to flatten the curve. And that’s our goal in public health. We want to ensure that the number of cases, (to) get them down below the level that health care facilities can manage. There are only so many beds in the hospitals in this area, so many respirators that are needed to help these folks that have the underlying conditions and have these severe cases.”

Governments at all levels have been working in unison on this same goal.

“I think what we’re doing is helping,” Langer said. “The cases have not been (rapidly) increasing. I think it could have been a lot worse if we wouldn’t have been taking these actions.”

The Minnesota Department of Health website can be found at www.health.state.mn.us and people can search Facebook for Community Health and Human Services of Faribault and Martin County.

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