FERGUS FALLS -- County Public Health Director Jody Lien, addressing county board members on March 17, said her department will respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis while at the same time meeting the needs of Otter Tail County residents.

To that end, Lien and her employees will work in conjunction with the county board and other county departments. At the same time, County Public Health will follow recommendations of the Minnesota Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Our motto here in Otter Tail County is prevent and protect,” Lien said.

Lien said that plans are in place to meet the coronavirus challenge head-on, adding that cooperation from all county residents is needed to minimize the effects of COVID-19.

“By taking preventive action, such as regular hand washing and not touching your face, we can reduce the chances of getting sick,” Lien said. “This will reduce the demands on local hospitals and clinics so the most seriously ill people can get the care they need.”

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The five county commissioners, on March 17, passed resolutions so that county government can take a proactive approach in defending against coronavirus (COVID-19).

In the first resolution, the county board directed County Administrator Nicole Hansen, County Emergency Management Director Patrick Waletzko and County Attorney Michelle Eldien to implement the county’s continuity of operations plans to address the coronavirus crisis.

The second resolution was a pledge by county board members to address the impact on families and workers here in Otter Tail County. Board members and county staff will have direct communications with impacted businesses and workers throughout Otter Tail County.

Resolution three addressed the state of emergency previously enacted at the state and federal level, and how Otter Tail County can do its part in minimizing the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) here in west central Minnesota.

Lastly, the county board voiced support for county employees who are personally impacted by the crisis while also serving county residents in the day-to-day operations of county government.

Some county employees will be able to work from home, while others will be available 24/7 in order to respond to health emergencies. County employees have been ordered to cancel all nonessential business travel until further notice.

“We as a county will provide the best available information we can regarding coronavirus (COVID-19), on our county website, through press releases and by other means,” said County Board Chairman Lee Rogness of Fergus Falls.

County Commissioner Doug Huebsch of Perham said the county board will do all it can to support doctors, nurses and other medical staff here in Otter Tail County.

“Our health workers need to stay healthy themselves,” said Commissioner Wayne Johnson of Pelican Rapids. “They deserve our additional support.”

County Emergency Management Director Waletzko said, “We are in extraordinary times which will require extraordinary measures on the part of county government.”

County Deputy Administrator Nick Leonard said that county government will be ready to assist businesses throughout Otter Tail County when the crisis passes, hopefully sooner rather than later.

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