Carlton County is not immune to fears of COVID-19, the respiratory virus that has spread across the world and into the U.S.

Minnesota officials announced Wednesday that a fourth person case has been reported, leading people to stockpile cleaning supplies and toilet paper.

Photos on social media show empty shelves that once held cleaning supplies or toilet paper. When the Pine Journal contacted Walmart and Walgreens stores in Cloquet, staff declined to comment. However, a walk through the aisles shows the stores are out of hand sanitizer, toilet paper and face masks, among other cleaning items.

Carlton County officials have also started to make small changes to the normal maintenance routine at county buildings in an effort to keep staff and community members from spreading the virus.

“We have adjusted our cleaning regimen in all county buildings,” Dennis Genereau, county coordinator said. “Public Health is working with the Minnesota Department of Health to monitor the situation and issue public health information and all departments are updating their contingency plan.”

He said employees sanitize handrails, door handles, light switches and anything else the public regularly comes into contact with while visiting the buildings. They currently do that twice a day.

Genereau said he continues to monitor the situation as the cases enter Minnesota. Once they enter the county, he said employees will ramp up their cleaning efforts depending on the situation. Officials have already stocked up on cleaning supplies.

Despite their precautions, Genereau said he knows the county cannot prevent outbreaks in the area.

“Our actions will help minimize the likelihood of it spreading,” Genereau said.

Meghann Levitt, health educator with Carlton County Public Health and Human Services, said they are in constant contact with the Minnesota Department of Health to monitor the situation.

MDH recommends people use a common sense approach to staying healthy, including washing their hands with soap and water and covering their mouths when they cough or sneeze.

State health officials recommend people have plans in place in case a family member comes down with COVID-19. They should figure out how they will handle childcare; and they should stock up on prescription medications, for example.

MDH does not recommend the use of face masks for the general public, according to its website. Masks are generally used in clinic settings to help protect health care workers from sick patients.

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