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Olmsted County Public Health are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation closely. This page is no longer being updated: please visit our COVID-19 webpage
February 10, 2020
The Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring an outbreak caused by a novel (new)
coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Since the outbreak began in late December of 2019, tens of thousands of cases have been identified and the death toll continues to rise.
For the most current information please visit the CDC 2019 Novel Coronavirus website.
The risk to our
area at this time is minimal, Olmsted County Public Health leadership are closely following the changing situation and discussing future actions should the virus continue to spread. We created our own coronavirus webpage to share local information related to this evolving situation.
December 10, 2019
Five Minnesotans are among nine people from three states whose E. coli O157:H7 infections have been linked primarily to Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp Chopped Salad Kits.
State and national health officials are warning consumers to not eat the salad mix and if they have it in their refrigerators, to throw it out. The advice to consumers, restaurants and retailers is to not eat, serve or sell Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp Chopped Salad Kits with an identifying code of UPC 0 71279 30906 4, beginning with lot code Z, and a best-before date up to and including 07DEC19. This information is printed on the front of the bag in the top right corner.
Information about the outbreak and what to do if you have symptoms of E. coli can be found in this food safety alert from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
December 2, 2019
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced it will add chronic pain and age-related macular degeneration as new qualifying conditions for the state’s medical cannabis program. Under state law, the new conditions will take effect in August 2020.
MDH also approved two new delivery methods to give patients more options. The new methods being added are water-soluble cannabinoid multi-particulates (for example, granules, powders and sprinkles) and orally dissolvable products such as lozenges, gums, mints, buccal tablets and sublingual tablets.
In addition to the newly approved conditions, MDH received petitions for four other conditions: anxiety, insomnia, psoriasis and traumatic brain injury. The petitions were rejected because the conditions had been petitioned previously and this year’s petitions did not include new scientific evidence.
More details are available on the Medical Cannabis website
As we prepare to for daylight savings and winter, state and local health officials remind residents to take actions that can prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Hundreds of Minnesotans end up in emergency rooms due to carbon monoxide poisoning each year.
To protect yourself and your family, follow these safety tips:
Make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors. Detectors can be purchased at most hardware and big box stores. The change from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time is a good time each year to replace the batteries in your detector and push the “Test” button to be sure it’s working properly. Replace your detector every five years or according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Have your furnace or wood-burning stove inspected annually. Hire a professional to make sure it is functionally sound and vents properly outside the home.
Never run a gasoline or propane heater or a grill (gas or charcoal) inside your home or in an unventilated garage. Any heating system that burns fuel produces carbon monoxide. Use a battery-powered detector where you have fuel burning devices but no electric outlets, such as in tents, cabins, RVs, and boats with enclosed cabins.
Generators should be run at a safe distance (at least 20 feet) from the home. Never run a generator in the home or garage, or right next to windows or doors.
Never run a car in an enclosed space. If you must idle a vehicle, back it out of the garage before idling.
October 9, 2019
This is the third report since
Olmsted County, Olmsted Medical Center, and Mayo Clinic got together in 2012 to
jointly produce a comprehensive assessment for our community. This collective
effort includes defining leading health indicators for our community after
combing through data from surveys and listening sessions with community members
to understand concerns and perceptions of health, safety, and quality of life.
“This cooperative effort is
really a great example of how Mayo Clinic and the community of Rochester and
Olmsted County are inextricably linked,” said Erin Sexton, Enterprise Director
of Community Relations, Mayo Clinic. “We are so grateful to participate in this
with so many wonderful organizations and individuals who are committed to
collaboration to ensure a strong, healthy, vibrant and inclusive community.”
While our overall health
status remains very positive it also shows more work is needed to achieve
improved health in specific areas.
Several opportunities for improving our overall health and wellness were
identified, including three priority issues: Mental Health, Financial Stress,
and Substance Use. Nearly everyone has been touched by one of more of these
issues, with our vulnerable populations often bearing a disproportionate
burden. “Healthcare systems continually
strive to balance organizational resources with community need,” said James A.
Hoffman, D.O., Olmsted Medical Center President. “The Community Health Needs
Assessment (CHNA) is a valuable tool to assist healthcare systems in focusing
initiatives, programs and resources to effectively address the needs of our
community as defined in this report.”
September 12, 2019
Minnesota’s adult obesity rate
rose from 28.4% in 2017 to 30.1% in 2018, putting more Minnesotans at increased
risk for heart disease, diabetes, some types of cancer and other serious health
The national adult obesity rate
rose from 30.1% in 2017 to 30.9% in 2018, according to data released today by
the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition to being
a significant health concern, obesity is also a significant driver of health
care costs. In Minnesota, 2017 health care costs due to obesity were estimated
to be $3.2 billion.
“Obesity is more than just a
health concern for individual Minnesotans – it’s a major challenge for the
entire state,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. “Addressing
this challenge requires an individual and community-level response, including
smart changes to our food and physical environments.”
Commissioner Malcolm noted that
while Minnesota had managed to put the brakes on rising obesity rates for
several years, these efforts have been undercut by a combination of factors
that includes the ongoing popularity of sugary beverages and increased time
spent on computers and mobile devices.
“Sugary drinks are the largest
source of added sugars in the American diet, and the added calories from sugary
drinks are strongly associated with weight gain and obesity,” Commissioner
Malcolm said. “Also, young adults between 15 and 18 are spending more than
seven and a half hours per day sitting in front of a screen – that’s time
they’re not being active.”
Minnesota’s efforts like the
Statewide Health Improvement Partnership and other local initiatives are
working to create healthy communities that have increased access to healthy
food and opportunities for physical activity in neighborhoods, schools,
worksites and health care settings. SHIP also supports state initiatives to
improve and expand bike and pedestrian infrastructure and national efforts to
promote walking and walkable communities. SHIP is active in all 87 counties and
10 tribal nations, and communities across the state have leveraged SHIP to make
positive impacts at more than 5,250 sites across Minnesota.
In addition to SHIP, other
statewide efforts include the National Diabetes Prevention Program, which
supports people who have prediabetes or are at risk for type 2 diabetes, and
the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program, which helps eligible pregnant
women, new mothers, babies and young children eat well, learn about nutrition
and stay healthy.
August 13, 2019
Children’s Minnesota has reported finding four cases of severe lung injury
in the metro area potentially related to vaping. These cases are similar to
lung disease cases recently reported in Wisconsin and Illinois, though it is
too early to say whether they are connected.
“There are still many unanswered questions, but the health harms emerging
from the current epidemic of youth vaping in Minnesota continue to increase,”
said Dr. Ruth Lynfield, state epidemiologist and MDH medical director.
In Minnesota, symptoms have resulted in hospitalizations lasting multiple
weeks, with some patients being admitted to the intensive care unit. Product
names are unknown.
Clinical presentation among Minnesota cases included shortness of breath,
fever, cough, and vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms reported by some
patients included headache, dizziness, and chest pain.
Patients and people with a history of vaping who are experiencing lung
symptoms should seek clinical care. Patients and those experiencing symptoms
should avoid using e-cigarettes and other vaping products.
E-cigarette aerosol contains harmful chemicals, such as ultrafine particles,
oil, heavy metals like nickel, tin and lead, and other cancer-causing
chemicals. E-cigarettes, vapes, e-pipes and other vaping products are
battery-powered devices that allow users to inhale aerosolized liquid.
E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive and harmful to the
adolescent brain. Nicotine can impact learning, memory and attention span, and
contributes to future addiction to tobacco and other substances.
Learn more about e-cigarettes and other vaping products at E-cigarettes and Vapes
July 19, 2019
The Southeast Minnesota Water Analysis Lab (SEMWAL) and Olmsted County
Public Health (OCPHS) is offering free water testing for nitrates for
individuals who get their water from a private well. The process is quick, easy and convenient. Water
samples need to be collected in a clean, never used, disposable receptacle
(e.g., water-tight quart size plastic bag) and brought to the Public Health booth/tent.
Results will be provided within 5 minutes. Staff will also provide information
about water quality, the health risks of nitrates, and how they may indicate
Screening Times and Locations
Rochester Farmers Market 8 am – Noon July 20, August 10, 17 and 24
Olmsted County Fair 10 am – 4 pm July 25 in the conservation building
Oronoco Gold Rush 10 am - 4 pm August 16
July 18, 2019
Due to extremely hot weather expected on July 18 and July 19, 2019, the City of Rochester and Olmsted County announce ways to beat the heat. Heat index could rise above 100 degrees.
Rochester Public Transit (RPT) is offering free rides on July 18 and July 19. This will allow residents who need transportation an easy way to get to a cool place. Just tell the bus driver you are taking the free offer for "A Cool Place to Be."
Salvation Army's Community Center will be open from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on July 18 and July 19.
Public health officials encourage residents to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and utilizing air-conditioning. If air-conditioning is not available, seek public buildings during the heat of the day such as libraries and community centers, malls and movie theaters. Children and pets should not be left unattended in a vehicle, even with the windows rolled down, even for a few minutes.
Use air-conditioning or spend time in air-conditioned locations
Limit your time outdoors, including outdoor activities such as sports, lawn mowing, and home improvement projects
Take frequent breaks if you must be outside
Minimize direct exposure to the sun
Stay hydrated – drink water or nonalcoholic fluids
Take a cool bath or shower
Wear loose fitting, light-colored clothes
Check on your neighbors, friends and family members – especially those who are older and/or have health issues
July 1, 2019
The recent heavy rainfall has caused
basements to flood and sanitary sewers to back up. Both floodwaters and
sewage are likely to contain harmful bacteria, viruses and/or chemicals. Tips for Flood Clean-Up 2019.pdf (136 KB)
Always wear water-resistant gloves,
boots, and eye protection. It is important to wash hands thoroughly before
eating or drinking. Keep contaminated boots, gloves and clothes away from
other family members and the clean parts of the house. During
flood cleanup, the risk of incurring wounds may be increased. For this reason,
cleanup workers should be sure that they are up-to-date with tetanus
vaccination. Contact your healthcare provider or local public health for
Non-absorbent surfaces and furnishings
that have been flooded or soiled can be flushed, scrubbed, and
disinfected. Absorbent materials such as carpeting, carpet pads,
upholstered furniture, sheetrock and insulation cannot be thoroughly cleaned –
and should be discarded. Remove all items that have
been wet for more than 48 hours and cannot be cleaned and dried to avoid mold
growth. 2019 mold clean up table.pdf (95.7 KB)
If you have a drinking water well and
the flood waters reached or covered your well assume it is contaminated. If
flood water came within 50 feet of your well, you should test your drinking water well for
coliform bacteria. Contact SE MN Water Analysis Lab at 507 328-7500.
If water softener brine tanks have been
flooded, they need to be emptied, cleaned and disinfected following the advice
of the manufacturer or dealer.
For more information on cleaning and
disinfecting flooded homes and associated health concerns, see the following
Minnesota Department of Health
University of Minnesota Extension
June 11, 2019
While air quality in Minnesota is generally good, a new joint analysis by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) found that air pollution that does occur plays a measurable role in deaths and hospitalizations across the state.
The report, titled “Life and Breath: How Air Pollution Affects Health in Minnesota,” broadens the scope of a 2015 analysis covering only the Twin Cities metro area. The new report looked at air pollution and health data from outside the metro area. It found that air pollution’s impact on health is not limited to the state’s urban core and even people in rural areas can feel the effects.
Air pollution in Minnesota plays a role in up to 4,000 deaths, 500 hospitalizations, and 800 emergency-room visits annually. Groups most affected by air pollution include older adults, children with uncontrolled asthma, and people in poverty. The report says that air pollution is not just a city problem, and that overall pollution levels are higher in the southern part of the state.----------------------------------------------------------------
June 6, 2019
Annual Rabies Vaccination Clinic
Wednesday, June 12, 2019
This is an opportunity for pet owners to help protect their
pet(s), family and community from the risk of rabies. While most of the
rabies cases occur in wild animals like skunks, bats and raccoons, it is
important to protect our pets and families by providing the necessary
vaccinations. Wild animals may often be a source of rabies exposure for
domestic pets and livestock. The domestic pets and livestock most often
reported rabid are cats, dogs and cattle. Vaccinated pets, however,
prevent the spread of rabies from wildlife to humans.
May 20, 2019
Olmsted County Public Health is currently following a concerning
national trend around measles. Over 700 cases of measles have been identified
in 23 states so far this year across the U.S., the most cases since the early
90s in this country and it is only May. Last month, two cases were diagnosed in
Iowa, just a few hours’ drive from Rochester. While modern air travel always
means measles is just a plane ride away, the cases in Iowa bring the reality of
this national outbreak closer to home.
Vaccinations are one of the great public health victories
over the last century. Prior to the vaccine era, infectious diseases like
diphtheria, smallpox, and polio maimed and killed tens of thousands of people,
mostly young children, every year in the U.S. Take polio for example. In 1954,
the year before a vaccine became available, this country reported an average of
over 16,000 people succumbing to lifelong paralysis due to poliovirus infection
with another 2,000 dead. Smallpox used to kill one-third of the people that caught
it. Public Health efforts successfully eradicated both of these diseases from
the U.S. by 1980. In fact, deaths from vaccine preventable diseases have
decreased over 99% in the U.S. since the vaccinations became routine.
Measles is another example of a disease that vaccination has
impacted. The U.S. eliminated transmission of measles in 2000, almost 20 years
ago. In the 1950s, before vaccine, 3-4 million Americans, mostly children, got
the measles every year; about 50,000 were hospitalized, and 400-500 people died
every year. So why is the U.S. experiencing a measles outbreak now?
Unfortunately, a decrease in childhood vaccination across
the country is the driving factor. This is based in part on an infamous and
discredited study that suggested the MMR vaccine could lead to developmental
disorders. This led to the revocation of the license of the physician that
coordinated the effort after the study was shown to be fraudulent. Experts have
since looked multiple times and have found NO association between autism or
other illnesses in children being vaccinated. Most of the current measles cases
across the country are in unvaccinated Americans, including about 100 children
under a year old that are usually too young for the vaccine.
The alarming trend of reduced vaccination in children puts
the unvaccinated and other high-risk individuals in significant peril. In addition
to protecting your own children from the consequences of illness, vaccination
programs protect all of us. When you vaccinate your family, you not only
protect them, but you also shield infants that are too young, immune
compromised people, and those that can’t take vaccine due to medical reasons. Let’s
hypothetically say a case of measles wanders through a store here in Rochester.
If everyone else in that store is vaccinated, the virus has nowhere to go and
therefore can’t spread into our community. This measles case then leaves the
store without putting anyone else at risk. This idea is called “herd immunity”
and it is what protects communities from outbreaks.
The key is working together to make sure our communities are
well vaccinated before measles finds its way into our county. The current trend
across the country is alarming, but we can reduce this threat locally. Have a
discussion with your medical provider about measles and make sure you
understand your immune status. If you are delaying vaccination, consider moving
the MMR vaccine to the top of the list due to the current situation. It takes a
little effort from all of us to prevent a public health emergency with the
potential for severe impacts to our most vulnerable residents. Given the choice
to live in the pre- or post-vaccine era, I, for one, will take the latter.
Editorial by Graham Briggs, printed in Post Bulletin
April 16, 2019
Congratulations to the Rochester Farmers Markets on being awarded the Public Health Champion Award! This organization provides a year-round opportunity for people to obtain healthy produce, meats and other agricultural products directly from the growers and producers who live and farm within 50 miles of Rochester, Mn. The Winter Market, is held indoors at Graham Park twice a month January through April. The Summer Market, is held outdoors in downtown Rochester and is open every Saturday May through October.
The Summer Market is home to a vibrant agricultural marketplace that provides local access to quality farm products and strengthens the ties between the family farm and the community. The Market has something for everyone: fresh produce, dairy and eggs, flowers and plants, pasture-raised meats, baked goods, specialty products, crafts, music, nutrition and health education, chef demonstrations, and community resource information.
Consumers can obtain the freshest possible produce, meats, breads, and more and get to know the farmers who produced it. Farmers can sell directly without the "middleman". Farmers and customers often become friends, leading to people volunteering at a farm or even becoming farmers themselves. The farmers support each other - as customers, sharing knowledge, and promoting each other. They also supply fresh, local ingredients to many area chefs who shop the market for local, seasonal ingredients. In 2018, Market vendors donated over 21,000 lb. of produce to the Channel One food shelf. They also launched "Market For All," to celebrate diversity and hosted four themed events with community partners that included chef demonstrations, healthy international recipes, outreach and children's activities. The Market proudly offers and accepts Market Bucks for SNAP recipients and Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers for seniors and WIC participants.
April 12, 2019
Due to the
latest storm system sweeping through the area, many households lost power and
continue to be without power today. Knowing how to
determine if food is safe and how to keep food safe during extended power
outages will help minimize the potential loss of food and reduce the risk of
foodborne illness. Friends and neighbors are encouraged to check on each other
to assure they are safe during this weather event.
Power Goes Out . . .
refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain cold
refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened
full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24
hours if it is half full).
not eat refrigerated, perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, milk, eggs,
and deli Items, after 4 hours without power
power outage will continue during cold weather, use a clean, secure cooler
or tote to store your perishable food items outside. Monitor
temperatures to keep food at 40 F or lower.
Never use a generator, fuel-powered tools,
gas or charcoal grill in the house, garage, in enclosed areas, or near
windows, doors, vents, window air conditioners, and other openings.
is Restored . . .
You'll need to
determine the safety of your food. Here's how:
an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, check the temperature
when the power comes back on. If the freezer thermometer reads 40°F or
below, the food is safe and may be refrozen.
a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package
of food to determine its safety. You can't rely on appearance or odor. If
the food still contains ice crystals or is 40 °F or below, it is
safe to refreeze or cook.
food should be safe as long as the power was out for no more than 4
hours and the refrigerator door was kept shut. Discard any perishable
food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers) that has been above
40°F for two hours or more.
Keep in mind
that perishable food such as meat, poultry, seafood, milk, and eggs that are not
kept adequately refrigerated or frozen may cause illness if consumed, even
when they are thoroughly cooked.
April 11, 2019
Five community listening sessions will be held throughout
the county designed to hear directly from residents about successes and
challenges in their neighborhoods and communities related to our collective
health, health care services and access to care. Feedback from the listening
sessions will help community leaders and organizations determine future efforts
aimed at improving the health status of our residents. The same questions are
asked at each session and are hosted by volunteer facilitators and notetakers.
Sessions are open to residents 18 years and older and no registration is
Date Time Location
15 6:00 – 7:30 PM Eyota American Legion
23 6:00 – 7:30 PM Eagles Club, Rochester
*focused on Veterans and their families
25 7:00 –
8:30 PM 125 LIVE *focused on Seniors, in partnership with the City for Good and AARP
29 6:00 – 7:30 PM Chatfield Public Library
30 6:00 – 7:30 PM Stewartville Civic Center
The listening sessions are a part of a comprehensive
Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), conducted every three years by
Olmsted County Public Health Services, Mayo Clinic, Olmsted Medical Center and
other partnering organizations. Information gathered from these sessions
will be included in the 2019 CHNA document to be released this October.
April 2, 2019
On Tuesday, April 2, 2019 the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners passed a change to the current Tobacco Sales and Youth ordinance for the county, 4 – 3. Olmsted County joins 30 other Minnesota communities in raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and vaping devices, to 21. This change goes into effect on July 1, 2019 and will further protect our youth from the ill effects of tobacco and nicotine addiction.
The Olmsted County Board of Commissioners acts as the County Board of Health and responsible for regulating actual or potential threats to the public's health. "As the Board of Health for the county, we have the responsibility to enact regulations designed to protect the health of our citizens," said Stephanie Podulke, Olmsted County Board Commissioner. "The current push by tobacco and vaping companies to entice youth to start nicotine dependency and/or tobacco use is unconscionable. By targeting children well before their brains have reached maturity and understand the consequences of choices they are making, these companies create a lifetime market for their products. Once addicted, our children then face a life-time of struggles with nicotine dependency" she said.
"This is a positive step in the right direction towards a safer, healthier community," says Graham Briggs, Director of Olmsted County Public Health Services. "I am very proud of our county commissioners for their strength and determination in taking on an issue that at times has been controversial. I applaud their leadership and dedication to preserving and protecting the health of our youth."
March 14, 2019
Recommends Strengthening Tobacco Ordinance
Olmsted County Public Health Services recently introduced proposed changes to
the county’s current Tobacco Sales and Youth ordinance that would raise the
minimum age to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21
in Olmsted County. This measure is supported by the U.S. Surgeon General, who
recently declared youth e-cigarette use an epidemic, due in part to the record climb in e-cigarette use among our youth, known as vaping.
“In Olmsted County
tobacco kills over 150 residents and costs the county more than $85 million
dollars every year. Growing evidence indicates that the younger you are when
you start using nicotine the more likely you are to be addicted for the rest of
your life.” says Graham Briggs, Director of Olmsted County Public Health
Services. “After decades of fighting to reduce harm from tobacco, a new
threat is emerging in our youth and Olmsted is not exempt. We have a crisis
developing in our schools with vaping and it is creating an entirely new
generation of people addicted to nicotine. A change in the age for tobacco
access is our best option to put a dent in this concerning trend.”
Olmsted County Board of Commissioners will conduct a public hearing to
consider the proposed revisions on:
April 2, 2019
Center Council/Board Chambers
4th Street SE
Over the last year, Public Health staff, in partnership with multiple local
organizations, have conducted extensive research on local tobacco use and
potential impacts of this change locally. Discussions with healthcare
providers, teachers, administrators, parents, youth and civic organizations
confirm that Olmsted County is seeing an unprecedented increase in youth