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17 people tested positive for coronavirus after attending a house party in Rochester

Health officials say this is an example of the importance of contact tracing and social distancing.

A total of 17 people have tested positive for the coronavirus after attending a house party in Rochester in mid-April, after the stay-at-home order was in effect, Olmsted County Public Health officials said. 

Olmsted County Public Health Services Director Graham Briggs told reporters Friday that a man who was starting to show symptoms went to the house party with about 30-50 other 20-something-year-olds and then tested positive for the virus. Subsequently, 11 additional cases were lab-confirmed with the individual and the party. Health officials then identified five additional cases associated with the party. 

These individuals brought the virus to other households and workplaces. However, no further transmission has occurred. It has been over three weeks since the last known case.

“Without the work of our epidemiologists and the full and honest cooperation of all individuals involved, this situation could have been much worse,” Briggs said in a news release. “On behalf of public health, and the community, we thank them for helping stop further spread of this virus in our community.”

Health officials say contact tracers and case investigators helped identify this situation early, allowing individuals to be contacted and interventions put into place to stop the further transmission of the virus. 

Briggs told reporters this house party is a perfect example of how easily the virus can spread, and why physical distancing is so important, including avoiding gathering in large groups, to control spread of COVID-19.

"With Minnesota’s stay-at-home restrictions loosening on Monday, this is a reminder that we all need to practice good hand hygiene, avoid large gatherings, stay home when feeling ill, continue to physically distance ourselves when in public settings, and wear masks to protect others – this shows we care about our communities’ health and safety," the news release said.

As of May 15, Olmsted County has 417 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 and nine deaths.

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