by CHRIS ROGERS
There is an outbreak of COVID-19 in Lewiston, and Winona County public health officials warned the public of potential exposures at a football scrimmage in Winona, at football and basketball camps and other events in Lewiston from July 26-July 30. See our full story for more details. La Crosse County reported a case of a COVID-19 patient getting the virus a second time.
In a positive sign, the rate of new infections in Winona County has been trending down for nearly a full week. From a relative high of 46 cases in seven days on July 30, Winona County’s weekly total is now down to 17 as of Friday — the lowest since early July. Winona County Public Health Supervisor Melanie Tatge said the improvement was likely due to Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s statewide mask order two weeks ago. It’s been roughly four weeks since Winona Mayor Mark Peterson required masks in public indoor spaces in Winona.
The downward trend doesn’t mean people aren’t still getting infected, just that the virus was spreading less quickly than in the past. It also doesn’t mean that the downward trend will continue, and the outbreak in Lewiston and exposures in Winona could change the trend quickly. “It could change that, yes, because one of the events involved several different schools and several different towns. So potentially there’s a risk for high-risk exposure there,” Winona County Health and Human Services Director Karen Sanness said. It is too early to celebrate, she added.
County officials encouraged citizens to continue practicing basic COVID-19 precautions: staying six feet apart from others, wearing masks, washing their hands, and not touching their faces. They also asked citizens to please answer their phone or return calls from contact tracers who leave voicemails. “Some of the issues we’re running into is people are not contacting our contact tracers back,” Sanness said.
Elsewhere in the region, the virus’ pace was stable, except for La Crosse County, which had 97 cases in the last seven days — the most since early July and an uptick from the 60-80-cases per week it had been reporting in the second half of July.
Buffalo County reported one new case on Friday for a total of 43 cases and two deaths. The weekly infection numbers there have been declining over the past week.
Trempealeau County reported three new cases on Friday for a total of 335 with 30 cases in the past week. The county’s weekly infection numbers have wavered from 30-50 over the past few weeks.
The speed of weekly new infections in Fillmore, Houston, and Wabasha counties was stable: four, two, and 10, respectively. The virus’ spread in Rochester’s Olmsted County remains steady with 112 new cases this week and 1,700 total.
People with any symptom of COVID-19 should seek testing and stay home and away from others, except to seek medical care, health officials recommended. Symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, shortness of breath or difficult breathing, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell.
In Winona, COVID-19 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.
More information on how to protect yourself and your community and what to do if you get sick is available at cdc.gov, health.state.mn.us, and dhs.wisconsin.gov.