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Posted on: January 19, 2022

PRESS RELEASE: Caring in the Face of Omicron


January 14, 2022


WINONA, Minn. – While COVID-19 symptoms from the Omicron variant are mild for most people, it is highly contagious. The threat of severe disease is serious for people with underlying health conditions and those with weakened immune systems. Fortunately, there are simple ways both vaccinated and unvaccinated people in Winona County can show they care about their neighbors: masking in public, getting tested, and staying home when sick.

Of course, COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are the best protection against illness and help slow disease spread. As cases surge across the country, Winona County is experiencing a large increase in positive cases due to the Omicron variant. At the same time, Influenza cases are on the rise already causing 10 times more hospitalizations state-wide than all of the last flu season.

Local businesses and their customers are being impacted as staff test positive for COVID-19 and are unable to work. Loss of revenue and inconvenience to customers especially affects locally-owned small businesses. Healthcare workers are struggling to stay healthy and keep up with an increase in hospitalizations.

“A two-year pandemic is taking a toll on everyone, and, of course, we were all hoping we would be on the other side of this by now. Probably no one wishes this were the case more than our incredible healthcare workers. In addition to caring for hospitalized patients, we continue to have staff focused on testing and vaccinating community members on a walk-in basis to ensure these services are as convenient and accessible as possible,” states Rachelle Schultz, Winona Health President and CEO. “It’s as important as ever for each of us to do our part to prevent others, including our healthcare workers and those who are most vulnerable, from becoming infected. This means practicing all mitigation strategies including vaccination, staying home when ill, proper masking, good hand hygiene, and social distancing.”

As a courtesy to neighbors and the Winona County community, wear a well-fitting mask while visiting indoor public places. If you have COVID symptoms get tested and stay home. If you test positive for COVID:

- isolate for five days or until symptoms are gone and you are fever free for 24 hours

- wear a mask at all times for an additional five days

If you choose to be unvaccinated or have not received a booster vaccination but are eligible and are in close contact with someone who has tested positive:

- quarantine for 5 days, then get tested before returning to normal activity

- wear a mask at all times for an additional 5 days

- if you develop symptoms or test positive, begin isolation

If you are vaccinated and boosted, were vaccinated less than five months ago, or were COVID-19 positive less than 30 days ago and have a close contact:

- wear a mask at all times for ten days

- if you develop symptoms or test positive, begin isolation

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