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Med City experts explain how COVID-19 spreads through our communities

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) - The coronavirus outbreak is showing no signs of slowing down in Southeast Minnesota, with eight more cases in Olmsted County Wednesday.

"Bringing us to a total cases of 61. We have 11 clusters of cases," said Shaylene Baumbach, Olmsted County Public Health educator. "Those clusters are categorized as two or more individuals living in a household or within close contact of a confirmed case."

It affects everyone differently. The exact reason remains unknown but based on the severe cases so far, experts believe it could be tied to one's immune system.

"There's a spectrum that this virus can cause, ranging from no symptoms at all to pneumonia, multi-organ dysfunction and unfortunately, death," said Dr. Nipunie Rajapackse, Mayo Clinic public health and pediatric infectious disease expert.

Not just Olmsted County, but also smaller counties such as Freeborn are being affected by COVID-19. The county of just over 20,000 has seen two cases. That being said, the Albert Lea community is taking social distancing very seriously.

"Everyone should assume at this point that the virus is in their community," said Dr. Rajapakse. "We're seeing it in big cities. We're seeing it in small cities. We're seeing it in rural areas. So it's here."

It makes following the social distancing rules that much more important.

"Even things that may seem relatively benign, like small dinner parties or play dates, we're encouraging people to not even do that," Rajapakse said. "You should really be limiting your contact with others to within your household as much as possible."

Some are starting to wear personal protective equipment (PPE).

"We have not put out a new recommendation on the general community wearing PPE," said Baumbach.

Yet as we've seen, things can change.

"We have to understand that we're in what we would consider the early days of this," said Rajapakse.

Dr. Rajapakse encourages people to go outside but to maintain a six foot distance from anyone else.

According to current data, pregnant women and children have not yet been linked with a higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19.

Alex Tejada

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