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COVID-19 in MN: What can you do to protect you and your family?

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) - Today, we saw the highest number of deaths in the country since the pandemic began.

The Graham Park Collaborative Collection Site here in Rochester had its biggest day of testing at the drive-thru site yesterday, with 162 being tested.

As the number of coronavirus cases increases, one of the main concerns is the strain on the healthcare system.

"We are looking at different models and working with OMC and Mayo to figure out what we might have to do should we not be able to flatten that curve," said Kari Etrheim of Olmsted County Public Health. "That's why its extremely important that eveyone does adhere to the stay at home order and continue the social distancing."

To help, the state has identified five alternative care sites in the event that hospitals reach maximum capacity.

"We hope that the additional in-house capacity that Minnesota hospitals are generating is enough for what is ahead, but as Governor Walz reminds us, hope is not a plan," said Joe Kelly, Minnesota Emergency Management Director. "We need to finish the planning for the alternate care sites now."

While Governor Walz's stay at home order is in effect, some are not listening.

"We're seeing crowds that are a little too big, especially around the lakes," said the governor. "I would encourage people to continue to think about this and know this is one of the biggest difference we can make."

"With the holidays coming up in early April at the same time we're seeing the expected increase in COVID-19 cases in our state, we really want to reinforce that this is the time for Minnesotans to keep up their vigilance," said Minnesota Department of Health commissioner Jan Malcolm.

Authorities say one precaution many are taking is unnecessary.

"The masks that we do have really need to be saved and utilized by our health care professionals," Etrheim said. "They're the ones on the front line."

As for unemployment?

"We just continue to entourage employers to look into shared work as a way to keep as many of your employees attached to your business during this period. Let the state cover the gaps in the meantime," said Steve Grove, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

This shared work program is just one sacrifice being made during this time, but officials say they are necessary.

"This is the only way we're really combat this invisible enemy that we're all faced with," said Etrheim.

Olmsted County Public Health also says that 16 percent of cases are attributed to community spread.

Alex Tejada

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