by ALEXANDRA RETTER
This week, Winona County experienced its largest spike in new cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic with 37 reported Thursday and 12 reported Friday.
The majority of the cases are in young adults who are between 18 and 22, and the cases coincide with students returning to college in Winona, Winona County Health and Human Services Director Karen Sanness said. The previous highest number of new cases in one day was 21, she explained.
A cluster of cases that would be considered an outbreak in a single location has not been identified, Sanness explained.
She noted that a great deal of planning went into how to proactively manage cases with students’ return to college, and collaboration will continue to happen with universities in town.
According to Winona County Health and Human Services, the risk of exposure to COVID is greater for people who live in congregate housing settings and/or who reside with multiple tenants. Anyone who lives with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 is considered a close contact and should quarantine for 14 days, the office stated.
Health officials asked citizens to do their part to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by wearing masks when in public, avoiding enclosed spaces with large groups of people, staying six feet away from others, covering coughs and sneezes, washing their hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, avoiding touching their faces, and staying home when sick except to seek medical care. 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.
Health officials also asked anyone with any symptom of COVID-19 to seek testing. Symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, shortness of breath or difficult breathing, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
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.
The La Crosse County Health Department will offer free, drive-through COVID-19 testing to anyone over age 5 with symptoms on Monday, August 31, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 300 Fourth Street North in La Crosse, Wis.