COVID-19 Latest News! (Mankato, MN) – The Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center is set to become Mankato’s hub for donations of personal protective equipment (PPE). Starting Monday, the event center will begin collecting PPE from the community, which will be sanitized and re-packaged for distribution to healthcare facilities, front-line volunteers, public safety, and other essential workers. PPE includes gowns, gloves, and masks, and other supplies. The idea came during an ongoing collaboration between multiple community organizations, including Greater Mankato Area United Way, the Disabled Veterans of Minnesota Lyle C. Pearson Chapter 10, Blue Earth County, Greater Mankato Growth, MSU, Mayo Clinic, and the City of Mankato. Brian Sather, co-director of the MCHS Event Center, said they realized there was an opportunity to help during discussions with the partners. “The event center has access to supply chain for hard-to-purchase materials, storage space, and equipment needed to help collect, sanitize, manage and distribute PPE being produced through grassroots community efforts,” said Sather. The event center will begin taking donations at 9 a.m. Monday, April 13. Direct donations to facilities accepting masks are still encouraged, but if a facility doesn’t need PPE, the event center will take the donation for staff to provide to others. Civic center drop off locations: Community members are asked to place PPEs in green Disabled American Veterans of Minnesota dropboxes in front of the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center lobby doors. Businesses or individuals with large deliveries may bring Mondays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Call 311 or 507-387-8600 to schedule an appointment. Please use Walnut Street to access the event center’s loading dock area. Signage will help direct where to place. 4/9/2020 7am (Mankato, MN) – The City of Mankato closed playgrounds earlier this week and Mankato Area Public Schools will follow suit. City officials announced Tuesday that playground equipment at city parks, including basketball, tennis, and pickleball courts, were closed due to the COVID-19 virus. On Wednesday, MAPS Superintendent Paul Peterson announced schools would do the same, saying the closures were in the best interest of the public. School playground facilities will be closed by the end of the week, according to a news release. Mankato city parks remain open for walking, biking, and hiking. 4/9/2020 5am (North Mankato, MN) – The city of North Mankato will host a a personal protective equipment drive Friday to support local clinics. The city is asking for donations of n95 masks, gloves, shoe covers, goggles, Tyvek masks, and other PPE. Homemade items will not be accepted. The drive is Friday, April 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the parking lot of the Taylor Library and police annex at 1001 Belgrade Avenue. 4/8/2020 3pm MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has extended Minnesota’s stay-at-home order until May 4 as the number of COVID-19 deaths in the state continues to rise. The original order was scheduled to end Friday. Walz said Wednesday that the order has bought Minnesota valuable time to slow the spread of the coronavirus but must continue. He says Minnesota has succeeded better than nearly all the other states in slowing it down, but can’t rest easy. Walz’s new order also extends the closure of bars, restaurants and other public accommodations until May 4. Minnesota reported five new deaths Wednesday for a total of 39. 4/7/2020 MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Tim Walz says Minnesota has one of the lowest coronavirus infection rates in the country, but that residents must not get complacent. Walz told reporters Monday that Minnesota has just 17 cases per 100,000 residents. He says Minnesota is testing at a higher rate than other states, but not enough to provide a true picture of the extent of the virus’ spread. He says he’s preparing to extend his stay-at-home order, which runs through Friday. He hopes to announce a decision “in the next day or two,” and that the extended order will likely run through the end of April. 4/6/6am MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz says he’s worried about neighboring states that have yet to issue stay-at-home orders to try and slow the spread of the coronavirus. North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa were among a handful of states that did not have statewide orders in place as of Friday afternoon. Governors from those states said they have put a number of safeguards in place and many businesses are shut down. Walz says it’s likely that he will extent Minnesota’s order to the end of April. The Pioneer Press reports that Walz says the state’s residents are saving lives by following the rules set in place. 4/6/2020 5am PAUL, Minn. (AP/SMN) — The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota is approaching 1,000. The Minnesota Department of Health said Sunday the state has 935 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, up 70 from the day before. The number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Minnesota rose by five, for a total of 29. According to the data, the most common age group for Minnesotans confirmed with the coronavirus is not the elderly, but those between ages of 20 and 44. But older residents are more likely to need intensive hospital care if they are exposed. To date, 202 people have required hospitalization for the virus. Sunday’s data says 106 people are currently hospitalized, 48 of those in intensive care. Blue Earth County now stands at 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Le Sueur County reports 20 cases, while Fillmore and Freeborn counties have ten cases each 4/3/2020 7:50am (Mankato, MN) – Free high-speed Wi-Fi will be available on the MSU campus to college students, staff, and faculty who have access to eduroam, an international roaming service. The free WiFi will be available in campus parking lot 11-A, 24 hours a day, with no parking pass required. Users are asked to access the service from inside their vehicles and adhere to social distancing guidelines while parked in the lot. Additional equipment was installed on campus to serve MSU students, but is available to non-Minnesota state Mankato students who may have returned home to the Mankato area because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The lot has a capacity of 86 parking spots. 4/2/2020 1:30pm (Mankato, MN) – The Greater Mankato Area United Way is recruiting babysitters as part of a new project that would match essential workers with child care. Step Up to SIT is a website that matches babysitters with parents in need of child care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Greater Mankato Area United Way has partnered with the Rochester sisters who recently launched the site. United Way’s Community Impact Director Elizabeth Harstad said the need is high for child care for kids ages 0 – 5 years. Harstad believes the program will provide necessary assistance to healthcare and other essential workers so they can continue to do their job. Babysitters participating in Step Up to SIT can either volunteer their time or request to be paid. Sign up to be a sitter at Step Up to SIT. 4/2/2020 12:30pm (St. Paul, MN) – One more person is dead, and hospitalizations soar, as more positive COVID-19 cases pop up around Minnesota. The latest figures from the Minnesota Department of Health says 18 people have died statewide as the pandemic shows no sign of slowing. Three new cases were reported in Le Sueur County, which now has 18 confirmed cases of the virus. Freeborn County also reported three new cases. The county’s public health department said the new cases involved persons in their 20’s, 40’s, and 50’s. “We know there is community spread in the state, so there are likely more cases in the community that have not been diagnosed,” a statement from Freeborn County Public Health said. Statewide, the total number of positive COVID-19 cases is 742, which is 53 more than reported previously. Hospitalizations are up. There are 75 people currently hospitalized, 21 more than yesterday, and 11 more patients requiring intensive care than previously reported. Health officials say that 31% of people in the state with the virus were likely exposed through community transmission. COVID-19 spreads mainly from person-to-person through respiratory droplets from an infected person who coughs or sneezes. Spread is possible before people start to show symptoms, according to MDH. 4/1/2020 Noon PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Latest on the coronavirus outbreak in Minnesota (all times local): 11:25 a.m. The Minnesota Department of Health said Wednesday five more people have died of coronavirus complications, bringing the state’s death toll to 17. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continued to climb as expected with 70 additional cases announced Wednesday for a total of 689. The median age for those who have died is 84, health officials said. Thirty percent of coronavirus cases in Minnesota are the result of community spread. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. 6:45 a.m. The state has closed adult day care centers across Minnesota to prevent the coronavirus from spreading among thousands of seniors and disabled people they serve. The Minnesota Department of Human Services in a letter to 220 licensed providers this week said the people who staff the centers are not considered critical care workers and need to stay at home. The letter instructs the centers to close immediately. The Star Tribune says the centers provide activities, meals and other services to nearly 11,000 seniors and disabled adults across the state. DHS officials said some of the centers closed before the stay-at-home order went into effect, but that the agency issued the notice because it was learning some were still operating. The centers must remain closed through the duration of the stay-at-home order, which ends on April 10. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause severe symptoms like pneumonia and lead to death. 4/1/2020 6am MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Officials are scrambling to set up 2,750 new hospital beds across Minnesota for the anticipated surge in COVID-19 cases. It’s part of Gov. Tim Walz’s promise not to waste the time he’s trying to buy with his stay-at-home order to allow the health system to gear up. The state projects a peak in hospitalizations between mid-May and mid-June. A team is identifying potential alternate care sites that could be converted into temporary hospitals for noncritical patients. Minnesota reported two new deaths Tuesday, raising its toll to 12. The state had 629 confirmed cases as of Tuesday, up 53 from Monday. 3/31/2020 Noon (St. Paul, MN) – Minnesota reports two new deaths caused by COVID-19, and hospitalizations continue to grow, according to new data released by health officials Tuesday. The Minnesota Department of Health said all twelve deaths in the state have involved patients ranging in age from 58 to 95 years. The number of total positive confirmed cases is now 629, an increase of 53 cases from yesterday. There are 56 people hospitalized today, the same number that was reported yesterday. But the number of cases requiring hospitalization has increased by 20, with intensive care cases rising from 24 to 26. MDH now reports two positive cases of coronavirus in Brown County. Yesterday, Martin Luther College in New Ulm announced its president had fallen ill with the virus and was being treated in emergency care. A 31-year-old and a 46-year-old are the latest cases of COVID-19 in Martin County, where the count stands at 25. The latest information from MDH says coronavirus patients have been a young as 5 months old. The oldest was 104. Children as young as six years of age have been hospitalized for the disease. 3/30/2020 5:30pm (New Ulm, MN) – Martin Luther College in New Ulm announced today its president was diagnosed with COVID-19. In a social media post, the college said President Mark Zarling tested positive for the disease on Monday. Anyone who had prolonged contact with Zarling was put on a 14-day quarantine that started March 24, according to the post. No one in the quarantine group reported any symptoms that would necessitate COVID-19 testing, and everyone is reported to be following approved protocols. President Zarling is currently receiving emergency care at a nearby facility, according to the post. Zarling is the first known case in Brown County. As of Monday, data released by the Minnesota Department of Health hadn’t recorded any positive cases for the county. The college is still deliberating how to address year-end events and issues. 3/30/2020 6am MINNEAPOLIS (Star Tribune) — Minnesota residents are worried about their elderly loved ones as the coronavirus outbreak spreads to nursing homes. The Star Tribune reports at least 17 people living in nine senior care facilities across the state have become infected with the disease caused by the virus. Public health officials are concerned that the virus already has spread to more facilities but has not been detected yet. Adult children fear they won’t be able to touch their relatives again for weeks or months, or that their loved ones will die alone in locked-down facilities. Also, married couples living in the same facilities have been separated. 3/29/2020 1pm (St. Paul, MN) – Nine people have died in Minnesota due to COVID-19, according to the latest numbers from the Minnesota Department of Health. The new data shows the number of deaths nearly doubled from the previous day, when the count stood at five. There are 62 new positive cases of the virus, the total in Minnesota now at 503. Hospitalizations have also increased. Thirty-nine people are hospitalized today, compared to 30 people yesterday. MDH totals say 75 people infected with the virus have required hospitalization, 18 more than reported yesterday. In southern Minnesota, Cottonwood County is reporting its first COVID-19 case, while Martin remains one of the hardest hit rural counties, with 21 positive cases. Blue Earth County stands at eight positive coronavirus cases, while Nicollet and Waseca counties hold steady with three cases each. There are 11 cases in Mower County, while neighboring Freeborn County still has not reported a positive case of the virus. Brown and Watonwan counties are also reporting zero cases. Minnesota is currently under a stay at home order issued by Governor Walz in an attempt to slow the spread of the disease. Residents can still travel for essential needs, including grocery shopping, and doctor appointments, go outdoors, or care for elderly family, friends, or neighbors. The order is in effect until April 10. 3/29/2020 noon (St. Paul, MN) – A second person has died from COVID-19 in Martin County, as the Minnesota Department of Health reports nine deaths caused by the disease. The latest figure is nearly double from the previous day, when MDH reported five deaths. It’s the biggest one-day jump in Minnesota coronavirus deaths since the state’s first confirmed case was reported March 6. The death in Martin County, and wasn’t linked to long-term care. Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the three other latest deaths were among people who lived in a long-term care center in Hennepin County. There are 62 new positive cases of the virus, the total in Minnesota now at 503. Hospitalizations have also increased. Thirty-nine people are hospitalized Sunday, compared to 30 people the previous day. MDH totals say 75 people infected with the virus have required hospitalization, 18 more than reported Saturday. In southern Minnesota, Cottonwood County is reporting its first COVID-19 case, while Martin remains one of the hardest hit rural counties, with 21 positive cases. Blue Earth County stands at eight positive coronavirus cases, while Nicollet and Waseca counties hold steady with three cases each. There are 11 cases in Mower County, while neighboring Freeborn County still has not reported a positive case of the virus. Brown and Watonwan counties are also reporting zero cases. Minnesota is currently under a stay at home order issued by Governor Walz in an attempt to slow the spread of the disease. Residents can still travel for essential needs, including grocery shopping and doctor appointments, go outdoors, or care for elderly family, friends, or neighbors. The order is in effect until April 10. 3/27/2020 (St. Paul, MN) – COVID-19 has taken the lives of two more Minnesotans, bringing the death toll in the state to four. The Minnesota Department of Health didn’t immediately provide details about the two deceased patients in its March 27 update. There are now nearly 400 confirmed cases of the disease in Minnesota, with 398 people testing positive to the virus. It’s an increase of 52 cases from yesterday’s report of 346. Over 14,000 people have been tested for the disease to date. Faribault County reported its first COVID-19 case, while other counties in the region added to growing totals. Martin County now stands at 18 cases, an increase of six from the previous report. Le Sueur County now has ten positive cases, up four from Thursday. Blue Earth County has one more case, now reporting seven cases total. MDH says 34 people are hospitalized today, up from 31 yesterday. 3/26/2020 Noon (Mankato, MN) – Mankato Clinic is giving patients a way to safely consult with a provider during the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients can visit with a health care provider with telehealth care, also known as telemedicine, which connect the provider and patient by phone or video. Over 100 Mankato clinic providers are already offering the service to their patients. “Telehealth is an excellent way to deliver healthcare in this unprecedented situation,” said Dr. Andrew Lundquist, Mankato Clinic’s Chief Medical Officer. Departments are contacting patients by phone to determine if telehealth is a good fit. For anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, Mankato Clinic is answering a COVID-19 Hotline at (507) 389-8548. 3/26/2020 6am (St. Paul, MN) – The American Red Cross says it faces a severe blood shortage as the coronavirus pandemic grows. About 80 blood drive have been cancelled in the Minnesota-Dakotas region, resulting in 2,500 fewer blood donations, according to the Red Cross. Appointment slots will be added at donation centers and expanding capacity at scheduled blood drives. New measures have been implemented to make the process more safe: staff and donors will have temperatures checked before they enter, hand sanitizer will be provided, and beds will be spaced appropriately for social distancing. Appointments can be scheduled on the Red Cross website. 3/25/2020 2pm MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Tim Walz has ordered Minnesotans to stay at home for two weeks to slow the spread of the coronavirus and prevent it from overwhelming the health care system. The “stay at home” order begins at midnight Friday. He says the restrictions are critical to buy time and will save lives. People will still be allowed to go out to shop for essential needs, including food and liquor, see their doctors and buy gas. But the governor extended his order closing bars and restaurants to May 1. Takeout and delivery is still allowed. Schools will launch distance learning Monday. 3/24/2020 11:53am (St. Paul, MN) – COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased, while Minnesota saw another rise in positive test results. As of Tuesday, 262 Minnesotans had tested positive for the virus, 27 more than the previous day’s report of 235, according to numbers released by the Minnesota Department of Health. Fifteen of those new cases are in Hennepin County, which now has over 100 confirmed positive cases. MDH reported that there were 15 people currently hospitalized, up from 12 yesterday. Twenty-one people have been hospitalized total. The death of a Ramsey County resident last week is the only fatality in the state caused by COVID-19. 3/24/2020 9am (Mankato, MN) – COVID-19 has hit Mankato as an MSU staff person has tested positive for the virus, campus president Richard Davenport announced Tuesday. In an email to the campus community, Davenport said the patient reported that they were diagnosed with the virus, which has been confirmed by lab test. The Minnesota Department of Health has determined that risk of exposure is low, said Davenport, who also thanked the infected individual for their self-awareness, and for reporting their condition to the university. Davenport said the college will work with MDH to identify and notify any close contacts of the staffer. Davenport reminded students of resources they can use as the number of positive COVID-19 cases rise. An Emotional Support Help Line is available to students at 866-342-6892, and Student Health Services is answering COVID-19-related questions at 507-389-5591. 3/23/2020 11:44am MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has gone into self-quarantine after a member of his security detail tested positive. Meanwhile, Sen. Amy Klobuchar said her husband is hospitalized with the coronavirus, and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan announced on Instagram that her brother died in Tennessee of the disease. Minnesota’s confirmed case count shot up to 235 Monday, up 66 from Sunday. The rapid developments come as Walz considers whether to order state residents to shelter in place, though he doesn’t plan to issue that order today. Walz says he hopes his self-quarantine serves as a model for the rest of Minnesota. 3/23/2020 5am ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota health officials say the state now has 169 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus. The latest figure Sunday morning is up 32 from a day earlier. So far the state has recorded one death, a Ramsey County person in their 80s who had underlying medical conditions. Gov. Tim Walz has activated the National Guard to move personal protective equipment from Camp Ripley to a state warehouse in St. Paul. Many hospitals and medical workers have complained about a shortage of such gear. 3/21/2020 Noon St. Paul, MN) – Minnesota has suffered its first death due to COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health confirmed Saturday. A Ramsey County resident in their 80’s passed away on Thursday, according to a release. The deceased had recently tested positive for COVID-19 and was the contact of an earlier confirmed case. Meanwhile, MDH reported on Saturday that the number of of confirmed cases in the state had risen to 138, compared to 115 cases on Friday. More than 4,000 people have been tested so far, according to MDH. Three cases of the virus have been confirmed in Blue Earth County, and two in Nicollet County. MDH reports five confirmed cases in Martin County, where there has been evidence of community spread. MDH also reports cases in the following counties: Waseca, Steele, Dodge, Mower, Renville, Rice, Filmore, Anoka, Benton, Carver, Chisago, Clay, Dakota, Hennepin, Jackson, Olmsted, Ramsey, Stearns, St. Louis, Wabasha, Washington, and Wright. Gov Tim Walz and his Lt Gov Peggy Flanagan offered condolences to the family and friends of the deceased. Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said the death emphasizes the importance of all Minnesotas doing their part to slow the spread of the virus and protect those at a higher risk. Anyone over 65 or those with underlying health conditions is more vulnerable to the virus. 3/20/2020 Noon MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz says he might have to follow California’s lead at some point and order residents to shelter in place to try to slow the spread of COVID-19. The governor told WCCO Radio he certainly thinks it’s a possibility. He says experts are working to determine what steps are needed in Minnesota, and that he needs “every tool in the toolbox.” The governor spoke shortly before Minnesota’s confirmed cases soared to 115 as of Friday. But health officials caution that the real number is much higher because many people who get sick don’t qualify for testing. 3/20/2020 7am (Mankato, MN) – With businesses closed due to the spreading COVID-19 pandemic, many Minnesotans find themselves without work and no way to pay for medical care. MNsure says Minnesotans have options if they are experiencing a change in income or employment. Minnesotans who have lost health coverage from their employer – including through job loss – could qualify for a special enrollment period. A list of qualifying events is online. Minnesotans with private health insurance through MNsure who have decreased income, reduction of hours, or job loss could be eligible for advanced premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions. If you report a change of income, and ae eligible for these tax credits, you could qualify to change plans in a special enrollment period. 3/19/2020 11:58am (St. Paul, MN) – The Minnesota Department of Health reports the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since its update Wednesday. There are 89 positive cases of COVID-19 as of March 19, 2020. Approximately 3,038 have been tested, according to numbers released by MDH. Cases have been reported in Blue Earth, Nicollet, Waseca, Rice, Renville, Martin, Mower, Anoka, Benton, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Olmsted, Ramsey, Scott, Stearns, Washington, and Wright counties. 3/18/2020 6:10pm (Mankato, MN) – The Mankato Clinic has closed its drive-thru COVID-19 testing location on a recommendation by the Minnesota Department of Health. The clinic announced the decision Wednesday afternoon. “MDH recommends discontinuing testing to prioritize healthcare resources to meet the needs of critically ill patients,” said a press release. In response to the global pandemic, Mankato Clinic said it would designate the North Mankato Clinic as a Respiratory Clinic. Patients who have been screened through the clinic’s hotline at (507) 389-8548 will receive instructions on how to receive care at Mankato Clinic if medical care is necessary. Patients with COVID-19 have experienced mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, or shortness of breath. Muscle aches, headache, sore throat, or diarrhea are also common. Symptoms could appear 2-14 days after exposure. “If symptoms are mild, we encourage you to treat yourself at home,” Dr. Andrew Lundquist, Mankato Clinic Chief Medical Officer, said. “We understand that people may require medical attention. Rest assured, we are here to care for people who need care for this virus.” 3/18/2020 12:09pm (St. Peter, MN) – Two cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Nicollet County, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. The two residents were asked to quarantine themselves for 14 days from their exposure and will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms. MDH will investigate and identify anyone who was potentially exposed to those who tested positive. There are 77 cases in Minnesota as of Wednesday, March 18, according to MDH. Two people also tested positive to coronavirus in Martin County. There is also one reported case in Blue Earth County, and another in Waseca County. 3/18/2020 6:38am (Mankato, MN) – The Mankato City Council approved an ordinance Tuesday that provides up to $1 million to fund emergency management operations. In a special meeting with members attending by phone, the council unanimously approved funding up to $1 million in potential costs that could incur as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses. The money would be allocated from the unspent general fund from previous years. The ordinance also gives the city manager authority to close facilities and cancel events and meetings, while also authorizing law enforcement to enforce executive orders that bars and restaurants be closed expect for takeout and delivery. 3/17/2020 5:48pm (Mankato, MN) – Blue Earth County has declared a state of emergency in response to growing concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. The declaration was signed Tuesday by Blue Earth County Board of Commissioner Chair Vance Stuehrenberg “to protect the health and welfare of county residents during the national public health emergency,” according to a release from Blue Earth County. The declaration cites that efforts must be taken to reduce the impact of the virus within the county, and directs the county administrator and emergency management director to coordinate activities, and request local, state, and/or federal assistance as needed to protect lives and property, both public and private. Additionally, it directs the recovery of Blue Earth County from the impacts resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The emergency declaration will be presented to the full board at a special meeting of the Board of Commissioners Wednesday, March 18 at 1 p.m. for consideration of ratification. The meeting will be held in the Board Room in the Historic Courthouse at 204 S 5th St in Mankato. 3/17/2020 8:48am (Mankato, MN) – The City of Mankato is implementing a number of safety measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mankato has made changes to public building access, according to an update Monday from City Manager Pat Hentges. The Civic Center, including the public walk-through, has been closed. The Intergovernmental Center in the Civic Center Plaza, and Mankato Public Safety on Front Street is restricted for public access starting Tuesday. Utility bills can be paid online, or by phone at 833-245-1941. Utility payments can also be made by mail to the Intergovernmental Center, or by using the dropbox at the Civic Center Plaza location. According to Hentges’ update, water service will not be disconnected for any city of Mankato customers until further notice. Anyone having difficulty paying a bill should contact staff at 311. The city has also implemented the following changes: Parks and facilities – Reservations at city park shelter, facilities, or campgrounds will be cancelled until further notice. Deposit refunds will be provided once the city is operating at full capacity. Park restrooms are closed. Building permit and zoning applications – Plans may be submitted electronically (flash drive or CD) in the Intergovernmental Center dropbox. Payments can be made by phone by calling 311. Building inspections can be scheduled by calling 311. Public housing information for existing tenants – Orness Plaza offices will be closed until further notice. Housing briefings and tenant recertifications will be done over the phone with assigned housing specialists. Staff will be available by phone or email. Rental payments can be submitted in the Intergovernmental Center dropbox. Mankato City Council meeting – The council will hold an emergency online meeting Tuesday, March 17 at 4 p.m. to enact local emergency ordinances that reinforce state executive orders. Payment information – The city is looking for ways to provide relief to businesses, individuals, and others as the situation evolves. Payroll services to employees and payment to vendors will move forward. 3/16/2020 12:50pm (Mankato, MN) – The first positive case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Blue Earth County by the Minnesota Department of Health. Details on the case are not yet available. There are 54 cases in 13 Minnesota counties as of Monday. Waseca County reported its first case on Sunday; a person in their 40’s who had recently traveled. On Saturday, a case was reported in Renville County that was a person in their 30’s who had also traveled. 3/16/2020 9:20am (Mankato, MN) – Mankato Clinic has opened a drive-thru testing location that will be available to people who first undergo a phone screening. A press release sent Monday morning says the healthcare provider has established a COVID-19 hotline for those who are experiencing symptoms associated with the disease. Symptoms include a cough, fever, and/or difficulty breathing. Anyone concerned that they are infected should call the hotline at (507) 387-8548 prior to coming to the clinic. A Mankato Clinic nurse will guide the caller through the COVID-19 screening process. If testing criteria are met, the call will be directed to a drive-thru location. Using the drive-thru will not be permitted unless a phone screening has been completed by a nurse.