March 23 Message from Ryan O'Connor Regarding Confirmed Ramsey County COVID-19 Case

Just this morning I sent you an update that acknowledged the speed at which the situation around us is changing and that we knew that COVID-19 would continue to land closer to home in new ways. While we were already deeply immersed in a response as the public health provider, a services provider and in our efforts to retool on the fly as a major employer, today is the day in which I share with you that the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed within our workforce.

Even though we knew that this day would come, it is still a moment of uncertainty and concern for many. My thoughts – and I know the thoughts of employees across this entire organization – are squarely centered on our colleague’s recovery. As a reminder to everyone, most cases of illness are mild, with fever and cough, but this is a virus that we should continue to take seriously.

I want to share information with you to be as transparent and forthright as possible. Yet I also want to respect that every individual who experiences a COVID-19 illness deserves the privacy and patient protections that the laws in this state and country provide. The positive case occurred at the Ramsey County Care Center in Maplewood and was flagged through the facility’s enhanced entry protocols that are in place as a secured health care facility to protect residents and employees.

These safeguards enabled the individual to immediately be redirected from entering the facility and referred for COVID-19 testing. The testing then occurred while the employee was quarantined. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) shared the positive test results a few hours ago with us while also confirming that the agency believes that the employee was not symptomatic while working around residents or employees in the Care Center.

There will be MDH and local public health follow-up work to ensure the current and ongoing safety of employees and residents. We should feel good that we had the appropriate protective protocols in place and they worked. Families of residents are also being notified by Care Center leadership of this situation so that they are informed as soon as possible. Even though MDH told us they do not believe there was exposure inside the care center, we will be following up with additional precautions of twice-daily temperature checks of all individuals, as recommended for a care center by the Centers for Disease Control.

As I’ve said before and I will say again because it is important to keep stating, the number of COVID-19 cases will continue to rise in Minnesota in the days and weeks ahead. This means that we will likely have additional confirmed cases around us and within our organization. By following the protocols that we have put in place across our organization, we will limit the spread as much as possible. We are taking these steps while ensuring the community that needs us can continue to rely upon us in a moment of need. I wish I could share with you all of the messages I keep receiving that thank Ramsey County employees for their continued commitment to service during a scary and trying time. They are uplifting and a reminder that your efforts matter to many that you personally know and many more that you may have never met.

Thank you for letting me share this important update with you as openly and directly as possible. Thank you for continuing to show up and do the important work that you do. And thank you for being a part of our organization yesterday, today and in the important days ahead.