COVID-19 (aka Wuhan Coronavirus)

The novel Coronavirus (officially names COVOD-19) is a rapidly evolving situation and information changes daily. Health officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) are monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (termed “2019-nCoV”) that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2019 novel Coronavirus, Wuhan, China website for the most current updates.

February 25, 2020 Letter to our Partners (153 KB) from Director Briggs

Additional Resources

    Minnesota Department of Health
    Centers for Disease Prevention and Control

Current Situation (February 25, 2020)

  • The numbers: The most up-to-date numbers for cases in the U.S. can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. For international numbers, please visit the John Hopkins Interactive Coronavirus Website

  • Global response: Countries are continuing to evacuate their citizens out of China and numerous travel restrictions are in place in serveral countries. 

  • Travel advisories: CDC has issued a Level 3 advisory for China and South Korea recommending travelers avoid all nonessential travel to these areas. The CDC has issued a Level 2 advisory for Iran, Italy and Japan. These destinations are experiencing sustained community transmission of COVID-19. The virus can spread from person to person. Older adults and those with chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel.  

  • Travel Monitoring: Travelers from affected areas returning to the U.S. are currently being routed to one of 11 airports for screening. If symptomatic, travelers will be quarantined for 14 days. If not symptomatic, they are allowed to continue to their final destination. Upon arrival, health authorities will provide travelers with information and detailed instructions about restricting movements. Travelers will be monitored by health authorities for up to 14 days. Travelers are to not attend school or work and limit contact with others while being monitored.

  • Signs and symptoms: Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.  

  • No vaccine available. Everyday respiratory precautions will help stop spread of all viruses including influenza and the coronavirus.

What May Happen

More cases are likely to be identified in the coming days, including more cases in the United States and person-to-person spread. Widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States would translate into large numbers of people needing medical care at the same time. Schools, childcare centers, workplaces, and other places for mass gatherings may experience more absenteeism. Public health and healthcare systems may become overloaded, with elevated rates of clinic visits and hospitalizations. Other critical infrastructure, such as law enforcement, emergency medical services, and transportation industry may also be affected. Health care providers and hospitals may be overwhelmed. At this time, there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and no medications approved to treat it. Nonpharmaceutical interventions would be the most important response strategy.


You can help prevent the spread of respiratory illness with these everyday preventive actions: 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • Stay home when you are sick.

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Local Efforts

Olmsted County Public Health along with our healthcare partners at Olmsted Medical Center and Mayo Clinic are monitoring the SARS-CoV2 outbreak. Staff are trained and are prepared to care for patients and address the needs of the community should the need arise.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Chinese authorities identified the new coronavirus, which has resulted in more than a thousand confirmed cases in China, including cases outside Wuhan City. Additional cases have been identified in several international locations, including the U.S. 

While CDC considers this is a very serious public health threat, based on current information, the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV to the general American public is considered low at this time.

How It Spreads

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS and SARS. Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by COVID-19 had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread is occurring.

It’s important to note that how easily a virus spreads person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so. It’s important to know this in order to better understand the risk associated with this virus.