The number of U.S. cases of the COVID-19 virus topped 1,000 on Tuesday, with three in Minnesota, prompting Mayo Clinic to institute new guidelines on employee travel and gatherings.

A letter from the Executive Dean for Practice Dr. Amy Williams and the Chair of Practice Administration Roshy Didehban was sent to all Mayo Clinic staff on Tuesday afternoon.

The letter called for employees to limit their travel in the near future.

"Mayo Clinic will restrict non-essential business travel to all locations (international and domestic), including travel between Mayo Clinic locations. Car travel (e.g., among health system facilities) will continue to be an option for business needs," according to the letter. "If your role includes business travel, please postpone or decline those commitments at this time. If you have previously booked travel, we recommend canceling trips that commence through April 30, 2020. We will also be discouraging recruiting trips for prospective hires, and ask you to work with vendors to suspend travel to Mayo Clinic unless critical for business operations."

The letter also urged employees to take precautions with personal travel to minimize risk of exposure.

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The new guidelines also called for suspending group events.

"Within the next week, we ask you to suspend hosting large group gatherings with participants from outside Mayo Clinic, including medical conferences and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) events. CPD will cancel upcoming conferences. For now, we also recommend that internal large meetings, such as grand rounds, all supervisors, all staff, be moved to a streamed/videoconference option," according to the letter.

The letter also predicted that the spread of the virus will continue.

"We have observed an increase in community transmission in the U.S. and abroad. In the coming days, we can expect more reported positive cases of COVID-19. This is not an unexpected development given the change in testing criteria and test availability," according to the letter.

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