by CHRIS ROGERS
Winona Health officials alerted citizens to an outbreak of COVID-19 in Lewiston today. Six events in Lewiston and one in Winona from July 26-30 were flagged by public health workers after multiple attendees later tested positive for COVID-19, according to the county. Health officials recommended anyone else who attended the events get tested for COVID-19. It is the county’s first alert to potential mass exposure events and comes at a time when the rate of new infections have otherwise been improving.
“Winona County Health and Human Services has identified a COVID-19 outbreak in Lewiston, Minn., through contact tracing,” the announcement reads. “Multiple cases of COVID-19 have been traced back to several gatherings where individuals were in attendance and were in their infectious period and may have been contagious but were not yet symptomatic. If you were in attendance at any of the following events we ask that you get tested for COVID-19 and recommend that you quarantine for 14 days even if your test results are negative.”
The events include:
∙ Sunday, July 26, 2020, an unorganized game of basketball at Crossings (Crossings Center, 170 South Fremont Street, Lewiston)
∙ Monday, July 27, 2020, football camp in the morning and basketball camp in the evening at Lewiston-Altura High School
∙ Tuesday, July 28, 2020, football camp in the morning and basketball camp in the evening at Lewiston-Altura High School
∙ Wednesday, July 29, 2020, 7 on 7s football at Paul Giel Field in Winona
∙ Wednesday, July 29, 2020, Lewiston Farmers Market (There is a potentially lower risk of transmission at this event, according to county officials)
∙ Thursday, July 30, 2020, evening basketball camp at Lewiston-Altura High School
∙ Thursday, July 30, 2020, an unorganized basketball game at Crossings in the city of Lewiston
In Winona, COVID-19 diagnostic tests are available at the Winona Health Urgent Care clinic at 855 Mankato Avenue and at the Gundersen Health System Winona campus at 1122 West Highway 61. More information is available at www.winonahealth.org or www.gundersenhealth.org or by contacting Winona Health’s COVID-19 nurse line at 507-457-7619.
Sanness explained that it is important to people who were exposed to quarantine even if they test negative because it can take 2-14 days from the time of exposure for an infection to fully develop. "Sometimes it takes time for the infection to set in. We’ve had people who’ve tested negative and two days later become symptomatic,” Sanness explained. A negative test result simply means that a person didn't have an active infection at the time of the test. The virus might still be incubating in an exposed person's body when the test is done, and that person might not show symptoms right away when the infection does become active.
Also this week, Lewiston's 55952 zip code appeared for the first time on the county's weekly update of zip codes where COVID-19 cases have occurred. To avoid identifying individual patients, the county only reports zip codes with at least 10 cases, and Lewiston reached that threshold for the first time on Wednesday. Lewiston residents should follow basic COVID-19 precautions, Sanness said. "Don’t be going out to social events. Wear your mask. Wash your hand. Don’t touch your face. Limit contact as much as possible,” she stated. More information on how to protect yourself and others is available here.