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Mower County and City of Austin ask for the public’s help to prevent the spread of COVID-19

Mower County has announced it is taking active measures to prevent COVID-19 from entering buildings and protecting both the public and employees.

If you have a fever, a new cough, have recently returned from foreign travel or from an area with a high infection rate of COVID-19, refrain from entering a county building. Instead, people are encouraged to call the department you were intending to visit to see how your needs can be handled without an in-person visit.

If your business can be handled over the phone, online or can be postponed, we ask you consider those options. A list of county offices with contact information can be found on the web at co.mower.mn.us

If you do need to come to a county facility, stop at the nearest restroom to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before you meet with county staff.

“The efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are fluid,” said Mower County Administrator Trish Harren in a letter issued Monday. “As our response changes, we will do our best to communicate our response to those changes immediately.”

If you have questions, please contact Mower County Administrator Trish Harren at 507-437-9459 or by email at Trish.harren@co.mower.mn.us.

The City of Austin is also taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In a letter issued by City Administrator Craig Clark, the city has taken following actions to address the Coronavirus situation:

• Close the library, interpretative building of the nature center and arenas from Wednesday March 18-29;

• Gain Council approval of a Pandemic Plan specifically for this outbreak;

• Canceled any programming until further notice;

• Dispatch will send officers/firefighters to medicals our current guidelines;

• Medical calls will have single responder entry where appropriate to limit possible exposure;

• Discussions have happened and will be ongoing with Mayo Ambulance Service regarding best practices for the community;

• Make adjustments to the work areas to limit exposure at City Hall;

• Discuss protocol for remote Council meetings if necessary;

• Review quarantine laws should impacted patients be identified;

• Review and consider action plans for the possibility of staff sicknesses and how to continue critical operations;

• Purchase any supplemental personal protection equipment needed for first responders;

• Practice proper hygiene methods of hand washing, cleaning any shared equipment and making available hand sanitize; and

• Review and consider cleaning protocols in public use areas.

“We are all concerned about the spread of the Coronavirus and City of Austin officials are monitoring the situation and following the recommendations from the Mower County Department of Public Health, Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for both the public and that of our city employees,” Clark said. “These public health organizations and their staff are the primary responsible parties for these types of outbreaks, but local public safety departments such as Austin Fire and Austin Police Departments are front lines of interfacing with potential issues and we stand ready to address these situations with our key partners. We are also working closely with our health care providers as we transfer any impacted people to healthcare facilities.”

The city is also reminding citizens to maintain proper preventative measure, including:

•  Stay home if you are ill

• Frequently wash hands with warm soap and water for at least 20 seconds;

• Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;

• Avoid people who are ill;

• Do not share water bottles

• Cover your cough or sneeze using a tissue; and

• Stay away from large groups of peopl, especially if you are amongst a vulnerable population group

“This is a very concerning situation and as recommendations from Mower County Department of Public Health, MDH and CDC, change we will update our communications to you should that become necessary,” Clark said.

Additional information you may find helpful can be found at www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/index.html.