by CHRIS ROGERS
Another Winona County citizen tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to 11, state and local officials announced on Thursday. An individual in their 70s at a congregate care facility tested positive for the virus, Winona County Health and Human Services Director Karen Sanness reported.
“This patient is in isolation and recovering,” county officials wrote in a press release. “Winona County Health and Human Services are working with MDH [the Minnesota Department of Health] and health care partners to address the needs of this patient and provide guidance to others who may have contact with them. If an individual of the public has been in direct contact with anyone confirmed to have COVID-19, someone from the MDH will contact them.”
All 11 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in Winona County have been all among residents and staff at congregate living facilities. Congregate living is a catch-all term for group living centers, such as nursing homes. The first — and so far only — Winona County citizen to die from coronavirus complications was a 76-year-old long-term care facility resident — likely one of the patients who tested positive early last week.
While the confirmed cases have all been at group living centers, MDH officials said those cases originated from community transmission — meaning that the virus was spreading in the local community before it entered the facilities.
With so few people being tested, the number of confirmed cases is just “the tip of the iceberg,” MDH Commissioner Jan Malcom said. Health officials are prioritizing limited testing supplies so that, generally, only people at congregate living facilities, hospitalized patients, and health care workers and first responders are being tested for the virus.
“There are more cases in Minnesota, and we are absolutely urge everyone to assume the virus is circulating in your communities,” Malcom said.
To save lives, everyone should avoid getting close to other people as much as possible, health officials advised. People who are suffering any symptom of COVID-19 should self-quarantine at home except to seek urgent medical care, they urged. For a full list of recommendations to protect yourself and your neighbors, visit the MDH and U.S. Centers for Disease Control websites.