Over the coming days and weeks, the evidence that social isolation is working to curb the spread of COVID-19 will start to become clear. The graphs of the flattening curve, the phased reopening of the economy, and the slowing of new reported cases in our area and elsewhere will surely bring about relief to those who have shouldered the burden of so many facets of this pandemic.
COVID-19 testing in the area is conducted by Mayo Clinic Health System in Fairmont, Dulcimer Medical Center in Fairmont and United Hospital District in Blue Earth. Since testing began March 13, the three organizations have completed 1,088 tests. It is important to know that these numbers reflect some tests administered to residents who don't live in Martin and Faribault counties, and therefore can't be an exact comparison against the number of total positive results in these counties. As we know from public health reporting, 45 tests have come back positive for both counties combined as of Tuesday, April 21.
We are collectively seeing a downtrend in the number of tests completed, as well as the number of positive results. The marked decrease in the number of tests administered and the number of positive results prove people are following social isolation guidelines, and we thank you for that. We know it's not easy to stay away from loved ones and friends. Your actions are helping, and we can feel encouraged by what we are seeing. However, we also must plead with you to exercise caution moving forward.
COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus, which means it's new in the world and people don't have natural immunity to it. It spreads quickly, and it only takes one infected person to begin another outbreak.
Until there's a vaccine, which could take 12–18 months, we are not out of the woods. Please continue to follow Gov. Tim Walz's stay-at-home order and all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, including wearing masks, staying 6 feet from other people, and staying home if you're sick.
We will get through this difficult time. In the meantime, your health care providers are fully prepared to care for those infected with COVID-19. We ask that you help us do that by being safe and taking extra precautions to stay healthy.