Watonwan County Public Health officials are asking residents to increase their
COVID 19 prevention efforts in the wake of a noticeable increase in positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the area.

“In the last 24 hours we've seen the largest single-day increase in positive cases in the county,” says Naomi Ochsendorf, Watonwan Human Services Director. “We are very concerned this increase will continue unless and until individuals take the recommended steps to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.”

Ochsendorf added local food processing plants; including Tony Downs Foods in Madelia are following recommended guidelines for worker safety, including the use of PPE and social distancing. Employers throughout Watonwan County are working closely with health officials to isolate residents who have tested positive and ensuring staff are healthy as they come to work.

This week has also seen an increase in the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the county, and Ochsendorf believes additional increases in positive cases are possible in the next several
days.

"The collaborative partnership between health care providers and businesses in Watonwan County makes prevention efforts most effective, and by working together we can flatten this curve of cases as quickly as possible," says Eric Weller, regional coordinator of the South Central Healthcare Coalition. "It's equally important that individuals take responsibility by wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding large gatherings."

Weller and other health officials also asked residents to not let the relaxing of some stay-at-home guidelines think that everything is back to normal.

"We are still advising people not to congregate in large numbers for graduations parties, weddings and other large group gatherings," he says. "This is where there is greatest potential to spread COVID-19, even from those people who don't have any symptoms."

For more information on how individuals and employers can stop the spread of the coronavirus, go to the Minnesota Department of Health web site at https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/