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Lyon Co. reaches 300 total COVID-19 cases

SW Health Department stresses importance of contact tracing

MARSHALL — The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Lyon County has continued to rise this month. The total number of cases reported in Lyon County residents is now at 300, the Minnesota Department of Health said Wednesday.

The MDH reported a total of 426 new cases across the state on Wednesday. Five of the people included in that total were from Lyon County. While the total number of confirmed cases reported in Lyon County has risen steadily over the past week, the numbers of cases reported each day have been smaller than the sharp increases reported in early June.

Statewide, 260 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, the MDH said. Of those people, 125 are currently in intensive care. Minnesota has reported a cumulative total of 37,716 COVID-19 cases and 1,445 deaths. A total of 31,947 COVID-19 patients no longer need to be isolated, the MDH said.

While COVID-19 is becoming more widespread in southwest Minnesota, it’s important that people who test positive for coronavirus take part in contact tracing, area health responders said.

“Our goal is to slow the spread, especially to our vulnerable populations, by figuring out who has the virus and who they may have exposed during the time they were possibly infectious,” said Dr. Steven Meister, chief medical officer at Avera Marshall.

Tracing is crucial because people can spread the virus in the community even if they don’t look or feel sick.

“Contact tracing is just one step in mitigating the effects of this virus. We need the communities’ help. We can do a better job notifying those who may have been exposed if we get accurate and timely information from those who are called,” said Carol Biren, public health director at Southwest Health and Human Services.

In a Tuesday news release, SWHHS explained how the contact tracing process works. The MDH is responsible for doing contact tracing when a person tests positive for COVID-19, Biren said. People who test positive can usually expect a call from the MDH within 24 hours of being notified by their health provider.

It is extremely important for people to give health care providers accurate information, and to answer the phone when a contact tracer calls, Biren said. Tracers will never ask for private information like your Social Security number, or your bank or credit card information. Instead, contact tracers work with patients to help identify symptoms of COVID-19, and pinpoint any close contacts who may have been exposed to the virus.

SWHHS said some important things to think about when working with contact tracers include what symptoms you’ve experienced and when they started; whether you’ve had contact with a person who had COVID-19; and if there are people you have been in close contact with starting two days before your symptoms. “Close contact” means being closer than 6 feet away from a person for 15 minutes or more, SWHHS said.

It’s also important to think about whether you have underlying conditions, like diabetes, asthma or heart disease, that could affect the severity of COVID-19, SWHHS said.

Contact tracers will inform close contacts of their potential exposure as quickly and sensitively as possible, SWHHS said. Contacts are given information on what they should do to isolate themselves and how to monitor themselves for illness. Contacts are also encouraged to isolate at home for 14 days after their last exposure to the positive person, take their temperature daily and watch for symptoms like cough, shortness of breath and a loss of taste or smell.

For more information on contact tracing, go to: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/tracing.html.

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