COVID-19 (Coronavirus)



COVID-19 Community Hotline

9 a.m. - 7 p.m., Mon - Sat

Minnesota Helpline 

For questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, call
651-297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504
Mon-Fri: 9 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Find Local Resources

Current Situation

*Local Olmsted County updates will be posted by 1:00 p.m. Monday - Friday.

Please refer to MDH website for information regarding state COVID-19 data. 


Weekly COVID-19 Data Report

Weekly COVID-19 Report 7.8.20 (767 KB)

Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Status Report


Minnesotans are encouraged to make a plan now for alternate short term care for children, parents and other family members in the event of illness. To support families in this process, Minnesota Department of Human Services has developed Make a Plan, Minnesota!  The Emergency Family Planning and Information Kit helps families identify possible caregivers, gather vital family and child information, and share their plan with others.


On July 6, 2020, Mayor Kim Norton signed, and the City Council voted to support the third amendment to the existing Emergency Declaration, requiring individuals to wear a face covering while in any indoor public space in Rochester, MN. The signed amendment will take effect on July 8, 2020 and is effective until September 4, 2020 but could be extended. 

Re-Opening Businesses

Letter to Chamber of Commerce from Director Briggs, May 11, 2020 (114 KB)

Minnesota continues to move the dial and introducing more interaction between people over time. As we take cautious steps forward, it is more important than ever that we protect those most at risk, support workers, and all do our part to slow the spread of the virus. We continue to encourage everyone to:

  • Wash your hands often and regularly for 20 seconds or more;

  • Maintain physical distancing of 6 feet or more;

  • Wear a mask when in public settings;

  • Work from home when appropriate;

  • Stay home when sick and get tested if you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19;

  • Keep group gatherings small with distancing practices in place.

Executive Order 20-33, seeks to balance public health needs and economic considerations, and now allows more Minnesota workers to return to work when it is safe to do so. Re-opening plans must include guidelines and requirements for appropriate social distancing, hygiene, and public health best practices. Executive Order 20-38 expanded exemptions related to outdoor recreational activities and facilities. Executive Orders 20-40 and 20-48 allowed for certain noncritical businesses to reopen after they had planned for and provided a safe work environment. A template COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, which covers the above requirements, is available as part of the Plan Guidance, available on DEED's website



People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported -- ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19: 
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of these symptoms:
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell
This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

When to Get Tested 

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, call your medical provider right away. They will help determine if you should go to a specimen collection site to be tested, be seen in the clinic, or seek treatment at an emergency room. Due to national shortages of lab testing supplies, there is not an unlimited capacity for testing. You may be told that you do not qualify to be tested and to manage your symptoms at home if you are able. If it is determined by a medical provider that you need a test, they will direct you to the appropriate testing site. People who do not have symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19.  Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home.

Olmsted County Public Health cannot determine if you should be tested. You must speak with a medical provider to determine if you need a test. 

Mayo Clinic
If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, call your primary care provider or the Mayo Nurse Line at 507-293-9525.

Olmsted Medical Center
If you are an Olmsted Medical Center patient, 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.

What to do if you do not have primary care provider
If you do not have a primary care provider, you may attempt to get testing through a COVID019 triage line. If you do not have insurance and are unable to cover the test cost, please ask the clinic about billing options. 

What to do after you are tested
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, see If You Are Sick or Caring for Someone.
  • If you test negative for COVID-19, you probably were not infected at the time your specimen was collected. However, that does not mean you will not get sick. It is possible that you were very early in your infection at the time of your specimen collection and that you could test positive later, or you could be exposed later and then develop illness. In other words, a negative test result does not rule out getting sick later.

"Testing for COVID" resource 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 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 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 Testing Sites in Rochester to Converge on July 13, 2020

COVID-19 Testing Sites in Rochester to Converge on July 13, 2020 (189 KB)

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.



"Disinfecting Your Home"

Cleaning and disinfecting your home - Somali (191 KB)

Cloth Face Masks

On July 6, 2020, Mayor Kim Norton signed, and the City Council voted to support the third amendment to the existing Emergency Declaration, requiring individuals to wear a face covering while in any indoor public space in Rochester, MN. This will take effect on July 8, 2020.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Rochester has prioritized the health and safety of community members. In addition, the health and safety of patients and companions that are visiting Rochester for complex medical care is of utmost importance as well.  Medical tourism is a critical part of Rochester’s economy.  

Mayor Kim Norton states, “With infection rates on the rise locally, it’s important that we do everything we can, as a community, to keep residents and visitors safe from the COVID-19 virus.  The added benefit of protecting our businesses from another shutdown and making their environments safer for more customers makes a mask requirement the best choice right now.”

Frequently Asked Questions

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 Local Resources 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