By Anna Jauhola
Kittson County documented its first case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, on Thursday, April 16. Rumors of a second case circulated over the weekend, but as of Monday, that was false. Cindy Urbaniak, county public health director, said Monday morning there are no more positive cases in the county and one test was in the lab yet to be confirmed positive or negative. Marshall County also announced one positive COVID-19 case over the weekend.
Kittson Healthcare in Hallock announced Thursday morning the patient who tested positive visited a clinic in Kittson County with a fever and headache. The person was not tested here, but is recovering at home.
“I can say that if you visited the Hallock or Karlstad clinic yesterday (April 15) you are not at risk,” Urbaniak said. “Having contact with a contact of a COVID patient places you at no risk.”
The Minnesota Department of Health website backs up this statement with the following:
“If you are exposed to someone who was exposed to COVID-19, but has no symptoms, you can still go about normal activities. MDH does not consider contacts of contacts to be at increased risk for COVID-19.”
Kittson Healthcare uses one designated room to see COVID or other infectious patients and then uses a special machine that sanitizes the whole room after the appointment, Urbaniak said. There have been 10 tests performed so far in the county, with one positive and one not complete, Urbaniak said Monday.
Due to HIPAA laws, the facility cannot release any identifying information about the patient. Urbaniak said the patient or family is always at liberty to release the information themselves.
Healthcare officials were in contact with MDH, which has completed its contact with all who were exposed, Urbaniak said. She added that MDH completes a lengthy interview process with individuals who test positive and follow up with anyone they feel need to isolate themselves. Those who MDH believed needed to isolate are now in 14-day self-imposed quarantine.
Urbaniak said three of the healthcare workers who were exposed to the patient in Kittson County who tested positive are now at home in a 14-day quarantine, monitoring temperatures and symptoms.
“It is our recommendation that county citizens wear some type of face covering when out in the community,” said Urbaniak. “This can be any fabric face covering, such as a scarf or a bandana if you do not have a facemask.”
Wearing a mask protects the people around you from your germs, but does not protect you from others’ germs. So it is important that everyone wear masks, but continue with regular hygiene.
It is stressed for the public to continue social distancing at least 6 feet from others, as well as frequent handwashing. If you feel ill, stay home. Cover coughs and sneezes, and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
She also said if someone is sick, they should isolate themselves to one room and one bathroom in their home, if possible. If there is only one bathroom in the home, it should be disinfected regularly. Bleach does work as a disinfectant and can be mixed 1 part bleach to 9 parts water in a spray bottle, she said.
She said there are restrictions on testing for COVID-19 at this time, mostly due to a lack of testing supplies. They will test anyone hospitalized, residents of long-term care facilities or healthcare workers who are exposed. Those tests are sent to the MDH lab.
Anyone else tested through the clinics must present with symptoms to be tested.
“We remind the county residents that 80 percent of individuals who have contracted the COVID-19 virus will have mild or no symptoms,” Urbaniak said.
By Anna Jauhola