By Anna Jauhola
Kittson County now has four positive, active cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Kittson County Public Health confirmed on Monday that all four patients were tested for COVID-19 at Kittson Healthcare Clinic.
“When someone tests positive here, that name is shared with Public Health strictly for follow-up,” said Cindy Urbaniak, public health director. “If our facility doesn’t tell us about a case, the state department of health will. It’s not a violation of HIPAA to release that name to public health. It just gives us a jump start on doing follow up.”
Public Health Nurse Jeanna Kujava is trained in tracing those who have had contact with anyone who tests positive for COVID-19. Those names are not released beyond Public Health per privacy laws. They received many calls last week inquiring about contact and the need for testing because people believed they had come in contact with someone who had the virus.
The four individuals who tested positive all reside within Kittson County, Urbaniak said. Although they cannot be made to stay home, Public Health strongly advises patients to quarantine for 14 days after they were tested. Per recommendations from Public Health and Minnesota Department of Health, people who test positive should quarantine at home. Those who had close contact with positive cases 48 hours prior to a positive lab test or presentation of symptoms should go into isolation.
“Ideally they should isolate in a separate room with a separate bathroom,” Urbaniak said. “If you’re sharing a house with others, then they should coordinate their meals by leaving them outside the door or using the kitchen separate from others in the home and then disinfecting the kitchen.”
Those with children should coordinate childcare. If one spouse was exposed, the other spouse needs to care for those children and isolate the exposed person.
If a person was exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, that person would not necessarily get tested unless they show symptoms. A person who tests positive is contagious for up to 14 days after the test.
So far, Public Health officials are not sure if there is any connection between the four new positive cases in Kittson County.
“That’s still unclear for the majority of the four of them,” Urbaniak said. “We don’t know if there’s any connection.
As school will be starting soon and influenza season is upon us, officials are emphasizing the continued need to be vigilant about hand hygiene and getting the flu vaccine. Not only does everyone want the school year to be as normal as possible, it needs to be safe as well. Everyone needs to wash their hands frequently, use a tissue or their arm when coughing or sneezing, not touch your eyes, nose or mouth, and wear masks in public when 6-foot social distancing isn’t possible.
“We’re also pushing the influenza vaccine this year. You don’t want to be sick from two viruses at one time,” Urbaniak said. “You need time to recover. We have started getting some flu vaccine into our facility. Our priority is long-term care residents and employees.”
After that, the clinic is working out a plan to provide vaccinations to the public in a different format than a vaccination clinic.
By Anna Jauhola