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Southern Minnesota county aims to slow increased coronavirus spread

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COVID-19 testing at Mower County Fairgrounds

AUSTIN, Minn. (KTTC) - A spike in COVID-19 cases this month in Mower County has resulted in the Minnesota Department of Health taking some action to slow the spread.

MDH is helping provide free testing at the Mower County Fairgrounds with the help of the community.

They hope this weekend's efforts result in slowing the viruses spread, which has started to increase in the area. Hormel Foods and Quality Pork Processors in Austin suffered outbreaks earlier this month.

As of Saturday, Mower County has reported 784 total cases, the 9th highest in the state.

"I was hoping that our numbers were slowing down. I see today we jumped up again by 29," said Pam Kellogg, Mower County community health division manager.

All Mower County residents are eligible to get tested over the weekend, regardless of insurance or if you are showing symptoms. The testing site is ready to serve 2,000 but can expand if needed.

"So don't worry thinking that you're not eligible or shouldn't get it," said Kellogg. "We want as many people as we can possibly get here."

You do not have to bring proof of residency. The testing is contact free which means you won't have to get out of your car. However, it is recommended that you pre-register.

"It's been very fast. Less than 10 minutes to get through," Kellogg said. "It's a nice test. It's pain free also."

Once you drive in the north entrance, you are led by volunteers to a registration barn before heading to a separate barn for testing.

"The nurse will ask you to tilt your head back a little bit," explains Kellogg. "They'll insert the swab about an inch into the nose. Move it around for about 5 seconds and you're done."

Results can be expected in 2 to 3 days.

"If you're negative, you'll either receive a text or email with those results," said Kellogg. "If you're positive, you'll actually get a phone call."

Even if you do not test positive for the virus, she urges you to continue to follow health guidelines.

"It's not staying home forever," said the Mower County health manager. "Just try to be cautious of not being in large groups and wearing those cloth or surgical masks when out and about."

The free testing at the fairgrounds continues tomorrow from 11 to 6.
The Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin also operates a drive thru testing site for those showing symptoms of coronavirus.

Alex Tejada

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