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At an emergency meeting of the McLeod County Board Tuesday morning, a three-day emergency declaration regarding COVID-19 was extended 30 more days.

The declaration activates the county’s emergency operations plans, acknowledges that county staff have been working in a different capacity than usual, and may help make emergency funding easier to acquire and assist in reimbursement for supplies.

Laurie Snegosky with McLeod County Public Health is acting as the incident commander for the county’s emergency response.

“I just want to thank all the commissioners and administration for being so supportive and moving so quickly to get all our employees in a safe position, and being able to continue to provide the work that they do,” she said. “It’s just amazing how quickly things came together.”

She said the county had no confirmed COVID-19 cases, but that doesn’t mean there are no cases. It means no one in a hospital, nursing home or assisted living facility has been tested and confirmed.

“Because of the limited amount of testing, the testing has been minimal,” Snegosky said. “We are expecting it’s only a matter of time until we see positive tests. We are taking every precaution as we know that it is spreading within the community.”

She said everyone should practice social distancing, wash their hands and stay at home.

“That’s a hard thing to do,” she acknowledged. But she added, “We’re all in this together.”

McLeod County offices providing public-facing services were closed March 17. Employees will still attend work and provide service via phone and electronic means when possible. Required essential services will be provided in person. The Law Enforcement Center and Sheriff’s Office window will remain open and the jail, court services and court administration will remain open at this time, but the public is reminded to limit travel and maintain social distancing.

McLeod County’s CodeRED service provides messages to home phones, cell phones and email addresses during emergency situations. To sign up for notifications from McLeod County, visit tinyurl.com/ydd3axam. The county has also created a phone line with a recording of daily, local COVID-19 information. To access it, call 320-484-4369. A Spanish language line is forthcoming.

McLeod County’s emergency management director, Kevin Mathews, told board members the county’s emergency operations center had been partially activated. It is working to identify key information for logistics, financing and operations in the face of an emergency. The team meets virtually and has daily conference calls with Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as additional meetings twice a week.

“We’re going to get through it,” said Board Chair Joe Nagel.

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