First of all, I would like to thank each and every one of you for the sacrifices that you have made during this current COVID 19 pandemic. I want you to know that what you are doing is working and is making a difference.
We have only seen 10 positive cases of COVID 19 in Steele County so far and this is a direct result of our citizens taking the stay at home orders to heart. This has allowed those of us in health care to gather needed personal protective equipment, prepare our clinics and hospitals for COVID infected patients and to do so without overwhelming our capacity. The Mayo models for Southeast Minnesota now predict a slow but steady increase in cases for a peak (or more appropriately termed – a swell) in the fall time frame. We believe that we are ready for that. As our state and federal officials grapple with the task of safely reopening our communities one of the key elements needed to do so is testing. That is where our Mayo Clinic Health System clinic in Owatonna is here to serve you, our community.
Testing is broken down into two parts. The first in the diagnostic test to answer the question of do I have COVID 19 or not. This is often times referred to as a nuclear test and it is done by taking a swab from your nose. We have had a drive though testing site open in Owatonna at our 26th street campus for the past five weeks to perform this diagnostic test. We have tested on average 40 to 50 patients per day and is available to all who have any potential symptom (cough, fever, chills, etc.). The test is less accurate if a patient has no symptoms so currently we are not testing patients who are asymptomatic so that they do not get a false sense of security. This testing site is open seven days a week and currently is open from 10 am to 6 pm. We prefer that patients call the clinic prior to coming for the test. We plan to continue this testing for the foreseeable future and will make adjustments as the pattern of the virus plays out in our communities. The time from testing to getting a result has been around 24 hrs. As your business starts to reopen or bring employees back to work, public health officials continue to suggest that patients who are sick should stay home. Some workplaces may also set up screening stations to monitor the temperature of those who wish to enter. Our goal as MCHS-Owatonna is to provide timely testing so that you will know if it is safe for that employee/customer to enter your place of business.
The next step in testing is to determine if a person has already had the virus and recovered. This test is called a serology test and is done via a blood sample. We know in up to 30 % of cases, patients may have had no symptoms and will also be a key component to opening up our communities. Mayo has developed such a test and this will be rolled out to our communities in the coming weeks. More information on the appropriate indications and use of this test will be forthcoming and communicated to you. Please know that we are here to meet the health care needs of our community and to partner with you during this crisis.
Brian Bunkers MD
Mayo Clinic Health System -
Owatonna and Faribault
Our Chamber has approximately 530 members that invest their resources, employee volunteerism and confidence in the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism and the business community.