Public health officials are asking anyone who has been to a downtown Rochester bar or bar/restaurant this month to consider getting tested for COVID-19.
A spike in cases of the virus has been attributed to people in social settings where masks aren’t in use and distancing wasn’t practiced. At least 25 cases so far have been tied to bars, Olmsted County Public Health Director Graham Briggs, director of Olmsted County Public Health, said Thursday.
He said changing information and contact tracing could make a list of those bars and restaurants obsolete and create a false sense of security.
“Tomorrow, that list of bars might be very different than it is today,” he said.
“Contact tracing works really in a work setting or a household,” Briggs added. “It gets much more complicated when you have a larger crowd.”
The bottom line is there is a risk — especially for younger people — that exists right now, he said.
The announcement comes days after downtown bar/restaurant management at Dooley’s Pub downtown announced the pub would temporarily be closed after two staff members tested positive for the virus.
Briggs said he recommends anyone who was in a downtown social setting in which masks weren’t being used and distancing wasn’t practiced to ask about getting tested.
To set up testing, people can call the Olmsted Medical Center COVID-19 nurse line at 507-292-7266. Mayo Clinic patients should call their primary care provider or the Mayo Nurse Line at 507-293-9525.
“Here in Olmsted County, we’re lucky to have that testing capacity,” Briggs said.
Minnesota Department of Health officials have linked earlier outbreaks in the Mankato and St. Cloud areas to bars that reopened for business and guidelines were not followed.
State health officials reported 28 new cases of COVID-19 in Olmsted County on Thursday, while 24 new cases were found in Blue Earth County and 21 new cases were identified in Stearns County.
Briggs said the recent citywide mandate for face masks might help mitigate the spread but added that people exposed over the July Fourth holiday weekend will just now begin shedding the virus publicly.
"The situation is changing," he said.