Otter Tail County issues guidance for snowbirds and summer residents

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Many seasonal property owners and snowbirds are asking: Can we go to our cabin during the stay-at-home order?

This year going to the cabin could spread COVID-19 and may overwhelm rural community hospitals and health care professionals, according to an Otter Tail County news release. As a result, Otter Tail County is asking people to follow Gov. Tim Walz’s orders to stay at home.

Approximately 40,000 seasonal residents come to Otter Tail County each summer for an average of 93 days, according to the release and a 2014 study by the University of Minnesota Extension. Due to this, local health care facilities already ramp up during the summer to provide services to seasonal residents and visitors. This year, however, health care facilities have been very clear that they cannot manage both the usual ramp up and a forecasted COVID-19 surge, according to the release. The release also noted that based on current modeling, there is not local capacity to care for all the patients that are forecasted to need hospitalization.

Otter Tail County is providing additional services to encourage staying at home, including checking on cabins, Otter Tail County board chairman Lee Rogness said in the release. The sheriff's office has a property check request form online. After the form is completed a deputy will check on the property and report back to the homeowner.

Snowbirds are also moving back to Minnesota lake homes and are recommended to stay home for 14 days after arriving. Otter Tail County Public Director Jody Lien advises following these self-quarantine measures: stay at home, monitor for symptoms and avoid contact with others.

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