ROCHESTER, Minn. - Olmsted County leaders stressed the message of a united front Friday as it addressed the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, the message from health care leaders who spoke Friday was simple: Wear a mask.
Ellie Berbari, an infectious disease expert with Mayo Clinic, said change needs to happen immediately if the community wants to see numbers change in the coming weeks.
"What can we do? Berbari asked. "It's certainly an important point in this community and this region. If we take action today we will see the results in weeks.
"If you want to do one thing, it's mask. It's one of the most powerful tools we have right now, and we have to use it."
Graham Briggs, with the Olmsted County Public Health Department, said the pandemic is causing strain on the community “well beyond the health department.”
“Our healthcare workers are the true heroes,” he said. “During this pandemic, we refer to them as frontline staff. They are our last line of defense. It’s our community that protects them.”
Briggs said it is imperative the community follows the guidelines Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz laid out earlier this week.
Rochester Mayor Kim Norton said it’s important that the community works together to combat the spread of the virus.
“The second wave is here,” Norton said. “It’s time we get together and have a clear understanding of where we are and let the community know that we all stand together.”
Olmsted County has reported around 200 new positive cases throughout the week.
As of Friday, the county has announced 5,200 positive tests throughout the pandemic and 30 deaths.