COVID-19 Response



COVID-19 Community Hotline

9 a.m. - 7 p.m., Monday - Saturday

Minnesota Helpline 

For questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, call
651-297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504
Mon-Fri: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Current Situation

For the most current information on COVID-19, view the COVID-19 Dashboard by clicking the image below.


Please note that the best viewing experience for the COVID-19 dashboard is in non-mobile browsers: Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Safari.

COVID-19 message from Olmsted County Director of Public Health - October 20, 2020

Safe Holiday Celebrations

With the continued increase in COVID-19 transmission in our communities, Halloween and other holiday celebrations will need to look different.

To celebrate Halloween safely this year and help stop the spread of COVID-19 keep these general tips in mind: 

  • Keep gatherings small. Keep indoor gatherings to 10 people or fewer and outdoor gatherings to 25 people or fewer.
  • Hold small gatherings outside, if possible. Wear masks and stay 6 feet away from other guests.
  • Open windows and/or doors to allow air to flow, when possible if gathering indoors.
  • Wear a mask indoors and outdoors if gathering with anyone that does not live with you.
  • Encourage guests to bring their own food, drinks, and treats. Do not share utensils or drinking cups.
  • Always stay at least 6 feet away from people that do not live with you.
  • Remember who came to the gathering. Keep a list of invited guests in case one of them gets COVID-19. This list will be helpful if you're contacted by a health department case interviewer.
  • Stay home if you do not feel well or are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19 (CDC: People at Increased Risk).
  • If you have been diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19, do not host or participate in any in-person activities.
  • Costume masks are not substitutes for cloth face masks. The best face masks have two layers of fabric and cover your nose and mouth. Wearing a cloth face mask under a costume mask is not recommended because it may be hard to breathe.
Celebrate Halloween safely this year and help stop the spread of COVID-19. Choose activities with lower risk. See the safety tips above.

Lower-risk activities
  • Celebrate at home with family. Carve or decorate pumpkins. Have a Halloween movie night with treats.
  • Celebrate outside with family, neighbors, and friends. Carve or decorate pumpkins outside. Hold a Halloween-themed scavenger hunt.
  • Host a virtual Halloween costume parade
Medium-risk activities

  • No-contact neighborhood trick-or-treating. Put treats in small goodie bags and place them at the end of your driveway, on a table a few feet away from your door or at the edge of your yard for children/families to grab and go.
  • An outdoor costume party or haunted forest. Follow the safety tips above.
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards. Use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples. Follow the safety tips above.
Higher-risk activities

  • Traditional trick-or-treating and even trunk-or-treating where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots, pose an increased risk. To make it safer, be creative on how you hand out treats. Make a 'slide' for treats or make a game of it by gently tossing the treats into the child's bucket.
  • Costume parties or haunted houses held indoors for long periods of time with large groups.
  • Hayrides with a lot of people from many geographic areas.

For more information: 

Celebrating Halloween Safely flyer(165 KB)

CDC: Halloween
CDC: Holiday Celebrations
MDH: Holiday Celebrations

Graham Park Collaborative COVID-19 Testing Site

Hours of Operation

Monday - Friday: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Saturday - Sunday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Before you go to Graham Park Collaborative Collection Site 

Individuals must be screened through a COVID-19 Nurse Triage line to be placed on the testing list. 

  • Mayo Clinic patients should call their primary care provider or the Mayo Nurse Line at 507-293-9525.
  • Olmsted Medical Center patients, should call the COVID-19 nurse line at Olmsted Medical Center at 507-292-7266. The nurse line is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • If you do not have a primary care provider, you may attempt to get testing through a COVID-19 triage line. If you do not have insurance and are unable to cover the test cost, please ask the clinic about billing options. 
Test results are typically available through the patient portal in 24-48 hours.

After testing, individuals are asked to self-isolate until results are available and then strictly follow the advice provided to protect others and stop the potential spread. 

Please Note

If you are not well enough to get tested through the drive-through site, (15-60 minutes), please call 9-1-1. 

There are no bathroom facilities on-site; please plan accordingly.

Individuals will stay in their vehicle and will be assisted by staff along the cue line which includes three stations:

  • Welcome / Check-in
  • Registration
  • Swabbing Tent
Current Peak Testing/Wait Times:
  • Busiest day with longest wait times --> Monday
  • Busiest times of day --> mornings 9:30 a.m. - Noon
  • Slowest day with shortest wait times --> weekends
The drive-through site will close during inclement weather such as thunderstorms, high winds, or excessive heat. Please visit this website for timely updates related to closures. Please listen to our short band radio at 88.9 FM to listen to updates if you are on or near the testing site.

If you are struggling with your mental health during this stressful time, please call Health Housing and Human Services at 507-328-6400. If you are having trouble meeting your basic needs, call 507-328-6500. 

Please see Find Local Resources Tab for additional information and Translated Materials Tab for information in various languages. 

Case Interviews and Contact Tracing

Public health professionals perform case investigations and contact tracing to help slow and prevent the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19. Olmsted County Public Health Services leads this work with the support and guidance of the Minnesota Department of Health.

What does the interview process look like?

When public health learns that someone has tested positive for COVID-19, an interviewer reaches out to talk to that person, usually by phone – this is known as a case investigation.

When talking to the person who tested positive for COVID-19, interviewers work to determine their close contacts – anyone who has been within 6 feet of them for 15 minutes or more while they were infectious. Interviewers then reach out to inform close contacts and their employer (when permission is granted) of possible exposure. This is the next step to prevent the spread of disease, known as contact tracing. Interviewers do not reveal the name of the person who tested positive for COVID-19 when speaking with close contacts.

What will interviewers ask?

Interviewers use pre-approved questions for case investigations and contact tracing. They ask every person for their date of birth, address, race, and ethnicity, and other questions. Interviewers will never ask for or write down immigration status, Social Security number, financial information, or marital status.

Information collected during interviews is used only by public health agencies. The information is protected in secure systems and individual information is not shared with anyone else. Interviewers operate under strict confidentiality rules.

Interviews are available in other languages other than English, using skilled interpreters.  Outreach materials are also available in several languages.

Every person interviewed receives guidance about how to keep themselves and others safe. Interviewers can also help connect people with resources they may need while they stay home for 14 days to ensure they are not sick (quarantine) or stay home to recover from being sick (isolation).

Why are these interviews important?

It is important to answer the calls you receive from public health. When you do, it helps us:

  • Help you understand and manage your illness.
  • Understand communities affected by COVID-19.
  • Inform public health actions.
  • Understand who is at risk.
  • Follow up with high-risk groups.
  • Track the progress of the outbreak in our state.
  • Determine when it is safe to return to public life.


Olmsted County remains committed to sharing timely and credible information with the media to keep the public informed. Please be advised that with the rapidly changing nature of this event, we are doing our best to stay updated ourselves. Please reach out to us via our email inbox if you have specific questions or concerns about the information on our website, social media, or other platforms.

Email box for media
Please direct all media requests and inquiries to this central mailbox at Olmsted County: This box is being monitored closely and is the best way to reach us in a timely fashion. The exception would be any circumstance where a specific contact name is listed on a press release. In those cases, you may reach out to that specific contact directly. 

Media guidelines for interviews
Interviews may be conducted face-to-face if physical distancing can be achieved or remotely if this is not achievable; 24-hour advance notice is appreciated.

Media briefings
Olmsted County Public Health is committed to providing current information for our media partners. In order to join the media briefings, you must be invited to an online meeting that now occurs on Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. This virtual briefing is for media members only. 

If you wish to be invited, please contact for access.

Press releases

COVID-19 - First 50 days (184 KB)
Community face mask collection (193 KB)
Health officials confirm first death of COVID-19 in Olmsted County (115 KB)
Olmsted County COVID-19 closings (140 KB)
Food boxes delivered to Olmsted County residents (89 KB)New Hours for Graham Park Collaborative Collection Site (172 KB)

Additional information
Please be sure to check our social media sites for additional information:


There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19; however, research is underway.

Know how it spreads

  • There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
  • The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
  • The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
    • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
    • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
    • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
    • Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

Everyone Should

Wash your hands often
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay at home as much as possible
  • Put distance between yourself and other people.

Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.

  • You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
  • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.
    • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
  • Do NOT use a facemask meant for a healthcare worker.
  • Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.

Cover coughs and sneezes

  • If you are in a private setting and do not have on your cloth face covering, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Clean and disinfect

  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • Then, use a household disinfectant. Most common household disinfectants will work.

The CDC provides guidance for employers, communities, and individuals about what they can do to help slow or stop the spread of COVID-19.

About COVID-19

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. They are estimated to cause about a third of all cases of the common cold. The most common forms can cause mild to moderate illness in people, while other forms circulate among animals, including camels, cats, and bats.

COVID-19 is a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus that has not been found in people before. 

COVID-19 is not caused by the same coronavirus that caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in 2012. However, it is in the same family of viruses. 

Because this is a new virus, there are still things we do not know, such as how severe the illness can be, how well it is transmitted between people, and other features of the virus. More information will be provided when it is available.

Find Local Resources


"Disinfecting Your Home"

Cleaning and disinfecting your home - Somali (191 KB)

Cloth Face Masks Now Required

As of July 25, 2020, per the Governor's Executive Order 20-81, people in Minnesota are required to wear a face covering in all indoor businesses and public indoor spaces, unless alone.  Additionally, workers are required to wear a face covering when working outdoors in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained. Research has shown that use of face coverings can greatly reduce the risk of infection when combined with other prevention efforts such as social distancing and hand hygiene.

For more information about face coverings and the Executive Order, please see the Frequently Asked Questions About the Requirement to Wear Face Coverings

The difference between alternative masks and surgical masks

Masking protects your workers, customers, and business

As shown in other states, COVID-19 surges can happen quickly—even in areas with previously low or decreasing case numbers—and with disastrous consequences. Because Minnesota has begun the process of reopening its economy and people are now leaving the home more frequently, smart, simple infection-control measures, like wearing a face covering, are particularly important to prevent further COVID-19 spread. Other states are having success controlling the spread of COVID-19 by mandating face coverings in certain settings in accordance with CDC and WHO recommendations.

Workers in restaurants and bars must wear a face covering or shield   

All workers are required to wear a face covering in any part of the restaurant or bar, whether indoor or outdoor, unless a worker is working alone in an office or other enclosed area where food is not stored, handled, or prepared. 

When a face covering cannot be worn, such as when working in hot kitchens, workers must wear face shields.

Need A Mask?

Masks are available for purchase at many businesses throughout Olmsted County and Southeast Minnesota. You can also request a face covering by calling our COVID-19 Community Hotline at 507-328-2822 or using the Find LocalResources section above. 

Want to Donate Homemade Cloth Facemasks? 

As the demand for face coverings continue to grow across our city, county, region and state government and healthcare partners have come together to help collect and distribute masks to organizations in need.  

Patterns for making cloth face covering

It is recommended that all masks be in alignment with the CDC’s guidelines for masks. There are a number of patterns available that follow CDC requirements. 

Drop-off locations

Finished masks should be placed in a clean plastic bag (e.g., plastic grocery store bag tied shut or sealed plastic bag).
Rochester Fire Stations have bins located outside in their parking lots that are available 24/7:
  • Fire Station 1: 521 S Broadway
  • Fire Station 2: 2185 Wheelock Drive NE
  • Fire Station 3: 2755 2nd Street SW
  • Fire Station 4: 1875 41st Street NW
  • Fire Station 5: 305 28th Street SE
Mayo Clinic accepts donations weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at drive-up donations centers, located at: 
  • Gonda Building main entrance along 3rd Ave SW
*Donated masks will be used by staff who do not work in patient care areas as well as by patients and visitors. 

Olmsted Medical Center (OMC) accepts finished masks weekdays from 8 a.m. to noon at OMC's Marketing and Foundation Offices at: 
  • 102 Elton Hills Drive
More information on their website.

Rochester Public Schools accepts donations weekdays from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at: 
  • Franklin Elementary School, 1801 9th Ave SE – Door 1
  • Jefferson Elementary School, 1201 10th Ave NE – Door 1 and 2 
  • Gage Elementary School, 1300 40th Street NW – Door 1
  • Sunset Terrace Elementary School, 1707 19th Ave NW – Door 1