by CHRIS ROGERS
Slow and steady, known cases of the new coronavirus keep rising in the local area. From last Wednesday to press time on Tuesday, Trempealeau County reported four more infections — on par with La Crosse County’s new positives over that time — for a total of 26. Winona County reported two new infections for a total of 80, and Buffalo and Wabasha counties reported one new infection each. In Rochester’s Olmsted County the outbreak is another scale: There were 75 new infections in the last week.
Winona County patients as young as 31 have been hospitalized for COVID-19, and one Winona County resident has been in the ICU for weeks with the disease, according to Winona County Health and Human Services.
Public health officials on both sides of the Mississippi River urged citizens to continue to practice precautions against the spread of the virus to protect themselves and everyone around them. Stay home when sick except to seek medical care, stay six feet away from others, wear face masks in public, cover coughs and sneezes, avoid large gatherings, wash hands thoroughly, and disinfect high-touch surfaces, health officials recommend.
One Lake Winona Manor staffer tested positive
A staff member at Winona Health’s Lake Winona Manor nursing home tested positive for COVID-19; the staff member is in isolation, and it is the only case of the virus at the nursing home, Winona Health officials reported today.
Winona Health Senior Services Administrator Linda Atkinson wrote in an emailed statement that the staff member tested positive on May 19. The news came out last week because the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) last week listed Lake Winona Manor as a facility with an outbreak of COVID-19 for the first time. That list includes all long-term care facilities with one confirmed case of COVID-19 or more.
“A Lake Winona Manor staff member working with guest residents on our quarantine unit tested positive for COVID-19 after noting symptoms and being immediately sent for testing,” Atkinson wrote. “Residents and their family members were notified when we learned of this on May 19. Because of the heightened PPE [personal protective equipment] in use on the quarantine unit, there would have been a low risk of transmission. This staff member had no contact with Lake Winona Manor residents and they are currently self-isolating per recommendations. All Lake Winona Manor residents have been tested and none have tested positive.”
Atkinson stated that all staff members have been tested, as well. The one COVID-19-positive staff member remains the only case of the virus at Lake Winona Manor, she reported late last week.
In April, Lake Winona Manor came to the aid of Sauer Health Care, a Winona nursing home where the virus infected dozens of residents and staff. An empty wing at Lake Winona Manor took in residents from Sauer Health Care that had, at the time, tested negative for the new coronavirus.
If it is not successfully contained, COVID-19 can be tragically destructive in long-term care facilities. The outbreak at Sauer Health Care accounted for at least 14 of Winona County’s 15 COVID-19 deaths, and across Minnesota, long-term care facilities make up roughly 80 percent of the state’s deaths from the virus, according to the MDH. However, numerous nursing homes have successfully contained outbreaks to only one or two cases.