In a news release from the Steele County Public Health Office, there have been two confirmed cases of COVID-19, the coronavirus in Steele County. Amy Caron, the Steele County Public Health Director, was notified by the Minnesota Department of Health of the confirmation.

The two affected are a person in their 40s and a person in their 50s with apparent transmission travelling to other states, in both cases. These patients are at home and recovering in isolation. Steele County Public Health is working with the MDH and other health care partners to address the needs of these patients are provide guidance to others who may have had contact with them.

There is much that is still unknown about the virus, there is no vaccine, no antiviral medications, and only the symptoms can be treated. The Public Health office has shared the tips we should all be following in order to slow the spread of the virus:

Practice Social or Physical Distancing from others by keeping a distance of 6 feet between you and others out in public.

· If you have an underlying health condition or are an older adult, take precautions now. Consider limiting any visitors to your home. Consider asking others to assist you in getting the things you need, such as groceries or medications so that you do not have to go out where there are groups of people.

· Do not gather in groups. Find new ways to conduct your daily business. Make use of technology and use phones, FaceTime, Skype and other ways to communicate

· Stay home if you have cold or flu-like symptoms and avoid close contact with people who are sick. Try to separate other people in your household from any members that are sick.

· Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or into your sleeve, and then throw the tissue in the trash.

· Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom or before eating. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

· Avoid touching your face – especially your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

· Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs: practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces

· If you have symptoms of a respiratory disease (these include fever, coughing, muscle aches, sore throat, and headache), you should stay home for at least 7 days, and for 3 days with no fever and improvement of respiratory symptoms—whichever is longer. (Your fever should be gone for 3 days without using fever-reducing medicine.)

The most reliable and up to date information on coronavirus can be found at The Centers for Disease Control  and Minnesota Department of Health  websites. There is also an MDH hotline number at: (651)201-3920. Local questions can be answered by Steele County Public Health at: (507) 444-7650.

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