Cluster of COVID-19 cases reported in South Central MN

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has reported a cluster of positive COVID-19 cases in South Central Minnesota among young adults in their 20s who reported visiting bars and restaurants June 12 and 13, the first weekend they reopened.

“Since June 19, in a span of one week, Le Sueur County has had 23 new cases and 17 of those cases were under the age of 25 years,” stated Cindy Shaughnessy, Le Sueur County Public Health Director. “The message from MDH, local public health and emergency management is a reminder not to forget the things we know make a difference in transmission of COVID-19. The most powerful tool we have is social distancing. Outdoors is best (take advantage of outdoor dining and patios) and make sure to social distance (avoid crowded indoor spaces), wear a facemask when you are unable to social distance and keep washing your hands. These are simple public health interventions that we know are effective and can make a difference in how quickly this virus spreads.”

Shaughnessy added that while young adults may have a lower risk of severe illness and complications from COVID-19, they can become infected just as easily as anyone else can. They in turn can spread COVID-19 inadvertently to others including parents and grandparents who may be at greater risk for severe illness and death.

“Now that restrictions have been loosened, let’s all work together to make sure our businesses can stay open and our activities can continue. We need to learn to live with this virus and the best way to keep ourselves, our families and communities healthy is to practice basic public health prevention strategies,” she said. “Social distancing really does work to reduce the spread and being outdoors diffuses and dilutes the virus. We realize that the guidance has changed since the pandemic began and that can be confusing. However, this is a new virus and infectious disease experts, scientists and epidemiologists are learning more about how to fight it every day. We need to follow the science, data and best practices recommended by the experts.”

Wearing a facemask when you are unable to social distance protects others from your droplets if you are infectious, but without symptoms; others wearing a mask protects you.

Contact tracing is another powerful public health tool used by health departments to prevent the spread of infectious disease, Shaughnessy noted. Contact tracing involves trained staff calling new positive cases to educate them on how to protect others by isolating at home and to conduct an interview to find out who they had contact with that may have been exposed.

“Contacts considered high-risk exposures (closer than six feet for more than 15 minutes) would be asked to quarantine at home for 14 days to interrupt the chain of infection and prevent additional exposures. In order for MDH and local public health departments to conduct contact tracing, people that go in for testing need to make sure to provide an accurate phone number and pick up the call. We need everyone’s help to slow the spread of COVID-19,” she stated.

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