ST. CLOUD -- Stearns County Health Officials say while we may see a decline in new COVID-19 cases, don't think the crisis is over.

Public Health Director Renee Frauendienst says due to the lack of testing kits, and new regulations on who can be tested, the number of cases will drop giving a sense of false security.

Even though it will appear our numbers are slowing down, that may not be the case. The Minnesota Department of Health is working furiously to try and increase that testing capacity again, because we want to monitor how many have been infected to see how our strategies are working.

She says it's important to continue to enact the social distancing guidelines and other recommendations provided by the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health.

During an emergency board meeting Thursday, the Stearns County Board of Commissioners declared a State of Emergency.

The resolution will allow county facilities to enact the recommended guidelines provided by the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health.

County Administrator Mike Williams says while they won't close down county services, they will be closing public access to three buildings.

The Administration Center, the West Service Center and Melrose office will be closed to the public. Again we won't close down the county, we will provide all these services over email, mail, drop boxes and any other method we might dream up.

Williams says employees will still be able to come to work to help residents.

Drop boxes are being placed in the entrances of the County Administration Center in St. Cloud and the Service Center building in Waite Park for residents to drop off paperwork for processing.

Stearns County is also working to identify processes for how face-to-face services can be provided when that interaction is required.

The 30-day state of emergency will be in place until the next Board Meeting on April 21st. During that meeting the board will decided if an extension to the emergency is needed or not.

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