MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The mayor of a southern Minnesota city is disputing state health department claims that a COVID-19 survey team was threatened there earlier this month.

State health officials on Friday reported cases of health workers being subjected to hostility — including racial slurs — in several Minnesota communities, as the teams surveyed households to collect data on how the virus is spreading. They were forced to end the survey early, officials said.

The mayor of Eitzen, one of the cities singled out, said Saturday that he doesn’t believe the health department’s account of the episodes and added that city leaders were never contacted about survey teams working in the community, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.

“Personally, I think they owe the city of Eitzen and its citizens an apology,” Mayor Jeff Adamson said, referring to the health department.

The health department said one survey team in Etizen was boxed in by two cars and threatened by three men, including one with a gun.

“The team felt the intent was clearly to intimidate and scare them,” said Stephanie Yendell, who supervised Minnesota’s role in the survey. “Unfortunately that wasn’t the only incident.”