Stearns and Benton counties are operating a telephone hotline to answer questions about the novel coronavirus.
The hotline, which will be staffed by public health professionals, is 320-656-6625 or 1-877-782-5683. The line will be staffed from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.
Residents can also call the Minnesota Department of Health hotline at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903. That line will be staffed from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. seven days a week.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
- CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
For information about handwashing, see CDC’s Handwashing website
For information specific to healthcare, see CDC’s Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings
These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. CDC does have specific guidance for travelers.
United Healthcare is offering an EMOTIONAL SUPPORT HELP LINE FOR ALL STUDENTS through one of their subsidiary companies called Optum. Their toll-free help line number, 866-342-6892, will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for as long as necessary and the service is free of charge and open to any student. Students would have access to specially trained mental health specialists to support them if they feel they are experiencing anxiety or stress related to the recent developments around COVID-19.