by Rachelle Schultz, Winona Health president/CEO
The number of COVID-19 cases throughout our region continues to go up and down day-to-day, and as a result we are hearing from many of our community members regarding whether they should get tested, stay home, keep going to work, or go back to work. The answer? It depends.
At the bottom of this message are links to guidelines provided by Winona Health and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). These resources outline various situations and how you should proceed in each case. These are really good resources and I encourage you to share them with others — they are applicable in the home, work or any community setting. The goal is to help everyone do their best to protect themselves and others from spreading the coronavirus or becoming infected with it. You may even want to print these guidelines and keeping them in a handy place for reference.
Over the past few weeks, we have noted a trend that occurs whenever an area business announces a positive case at their location; we experience a surge in testing. We are happy to provide testing for anyone who wants or needs it, but also thought it may be helpful for you to know the recommended guidelines for when to get tested. For example, you could be exposed to the virus and not experience symptoms for a period of time. Thus, if you get tested immediately after finding out you may have been exposed, you may get a negative result only to start feeling symptoms a week later. Further, the type of exposure can make a difference and should be taken into consideration. MDH recommends waiting five to seven days after known potential exposure before getting tested as this is long enough for the virus to show up on the test.
I would like you to know that every test done at Winona Health is followed up on (via telephone call) and every positive test leads to a deeper assessment (contact tracing) to inform others who may have also been exposed for their awareness and protection.
As a community, it’s important that we all continue to wear masks in public (thanks to all who are Wearing One For Winona), practice physical distancing, diligent hand hygiene and keep your hands off your face. Once you or someone you love becomes infectious, it is too late to wish you had been more careful.
At Winona Health, we want to ensure that the efforts that have gone into planning, implementation, and surveillance, along with our daily precautions, will continue to serve our community. COVID-19 is not over, and our diligence as individuals and a community can support our goal of health and well-being for everyone. Further, we look forward to the continuing medical studies around this virus with the expectation of having a vaccine along with improved treatments and therapeutics. Until then, I want to thank you for doing your part to take care of yourself and others around you.
(Find guidelines and other information at winonahealth.org/covid.)