Four new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Trempealeau County since Tuesday, for a total of 24 confirmed infections. In the last two weeks, the number of confirmed cases has more than doubled in Trempealeau County. It now has one of the fastest rates of known spread in the area.
Public-health restrictions on businesses and gatherings in Wisconsin were struck down by the state supreme court earlier this month, but state and local health experts urged Wisconsinites to continue practicing precautions to protect themselves and their communities. On Thursday, the Trempealeau County Health Department again asked citizens to stay home if they are sick, avoid gatherings with over 10 people, stay six feet apart from others, wear a mask in public settings, wash their hands frequently, avoid touching their faces, and cover their coughs and sneezes. County health officials were not immediately available for comment on Friday. Earlier in the week, Trempealeau County Health Department Director Barb Barczak said the cases are widespread throughout the county.
Buffalo County has not reported any new cases since early May.
Statewide cases keep climbing; only one new case in Winona County
Minnesota and Wisconsin continue to report several hundred new cases each of COVID-19 every day. In the Twin Cities area, intensive care unit (ICU) hospitalizations reached 87-percent capacity and state officials reported that some hospitals had transferred patients to hospitals with excess space or readied makeshift ICU beds.
Meanwhile, one new coronavirus infection was reported in Winona County on Friday, bringing the total to 79 confirmed infections and 15 deaths in the county. The virus has continued to spread in the Winona County community in recent weeks, though more slowly than it did in April, when an outbreak at the Winona nursing home Sauer Health Care led to dozens of infections.
A 31-year-old Winona County resident was hospitalized for COVID-19, Winona County Health and Human Services reported on Wednesday. Five Winona County COVID-19 patients ages 31-85 have been hospitalized, according to county officials. One, age 65, is in the ICU. While no Winona County residents in their teens or 20s has been hospitalized, local people as young as 18 have contracted the new coronavirus, according to the county.
In the neighboring Minnesota counties of Wabasha, Fillmore, and Houston there were no new COVID-19 confirmed cases or deaths since Tuesday, but Rochester’s Olmsted County recorded another 24 infections bringing its total 594 confirmed cases and 10 deaths.
Got symptoms? Get tested
Public health officials continue to urge citizens with any symptom of COVID-19 to seek testing. Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath or difficult breathing, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell.
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. Walk-ins are accepted at both locations.
Local officials: Please cooperate with contact tracing
Along with testing and isolation, contact tracing is a key part of any strategy to contain the coronavirus, health experts across the country say. Contact tracing is the process of identifying whom an infected person recently had contact with and might have exposed to the virus, so those people can also be tested.
On Friday, Local leaders urged citizens to cooperate with health officials conducting contact tracing, stressing its importance in saving lives. “Contact tracing supports [COVID-19-] positive patients and warns their contacts of possible exposure to the disease, in order to stop the spread to additional people," Winona County Public Health Nurse Betsy Zeller explained.
“Contact tracing information is private and confidential. The identity of the infected person is never revealed. Contact tracers only ask questions about personal health; they will not ask questions about citizenship, financial information, or other topics. Contact tracers work remotely and will never visit or ask to enter a home or business,” local officials wrote in a press release.
"I call on all residents to participate in contact tracing if they are contacted by county health officials," Winona Mayor Mark Peterson said in a statement. "This is an important tool to protect the health and safety of our community, limit the spread of COVID-19, and ensure those who are infected or exposed get the support and care they need."
For more information on COVID-19 and how to protect yourself and your community, visit www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/index.html, www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/index.htm, and www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.