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An Update on COVID-19 In Our Community From Your Local Healthcare Providers

Community news | Friday, March 20, 2020

[Fergus Falls, MN and Elbow Lake, MN] Lake Region Healthcare (LRH) and Prairie Ridge Hospital and Health Services (PRHHS) are committed to providing the nine communities and surrounding areas we serve with timely and trusted information related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

What You Should Know

Based on the latest information available to us we believe it is important to know:

  • Science, medical opinion and direct information, point to a strong probability there are people in our community who have had close contact with others who have tested positive for COVID-19. While as of today the state tracker map reports no confirmed cases in our area, we are virtually certain the virus is currently in our community.
  • The virus can be spread by people with minimal or no symptoms, which would allow for the presence of the disease in the community without awareness of public health authorities and inclusion in reporting.
  • Given this information, we urge you not to rely on the publicly reported data and maps as representative of whether or not we have COVID-19 cases in our community.

What You Should Do

With this in mind, we encourage everyone to behave as though the COVID-19 virus is in our community. This is not, however, a cause for panic. A calm and measured response will be much more effective. Here's what you should do, based on what the CDC recommends:

1. Take steps to protect yourself.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Put distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important if COVID-19 is spreading in your community and for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

2. Take steps to protect others.

  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Wear a facemask if you are sick when you are around other people (sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider's office. If you are NOT sick, you do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick and they are not able to wear a facemask. Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
  • Limit outings for only essential needs.

3. Watch for Symptoms.

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the US and globally. Call your doctor: If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice. Based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of MERS-CoV virus, the following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

What To Do if You Are Sick

Patients who think they may have COVID-19 are asked to call us before coming to a healthcare facility. Calling first for a phone consult allows us to gather specific patient health history. After the phone screening, patients will be given guidance on whether to manage at home following home management strategies, or if appropriate, how to access our drive-up swab collection process if you should be tested. Our phone numbers are:

  • Lake Region Healthcare Fergus Falls Clinic: 218-739-2221
  • Lake Region Healthcare Fergus Falls Hospital (24 hours): 218-736-8000
  • Prairie Ridge Hospital & Health Service Elbow Lake Clinic: 218-685-7300
  • Prairie Ridge Hospital & Health Services Morris Clinic: 320-589-4008

Additional Resources

General questions about COVID-19 can be addressed by the MN Department of Health Hotline: 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903. The MDH and CDC websites are also excellent reliable sources of information.

Visit for the latest local updates. To learn more about social distancing and what you can do to reduce the spread and FLATTEN THE CURVE, visit

About Lake Region Healthcare

Lake Region Healthcare is living out its vision to be Minnesota's preeminent regional healthcare partner. With over 85 medical staff and over 900 employees, its team is dedicated to serving its patients and community with integrity, teamwork, compassion and excellence. For more information about Lake Region Healthcare, visit

About Prairie Ridge Hospital & Health Services

Prairie Ridge Hospital and Health Services is a private, non-profit health care organization providing clinical and hospital services in several small rural communities. Bringing specialty and sub-specialty physicians to patients through a vision to lead collaborative efforts that improve the lives of the people they serve by providing quality healthcare and outstanding customer service. More info at

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