Winona County sees largest single-day COVID-19 case increase at 38

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WINONA, Minn. (WKBT) – Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Winona County increased by 38 on Tuesday, August 25, the largest single-day increase since the pandemic started.

The total confirmed COVID-19 cases in Winona County is at 353, with 17 deaths.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, a large majority of the new cases are 20 to 29 years of age. Classes started this week at both Winona State University and Saint Mary’s University, and thousands of students have moved into on-campus dorms and off-campus apartments and houses. There is no information that directly ties the case increase to college students, and COVID case increases driven by young people – college students and otherwise – has been a trend in Winona and other communities since June.

“These numbers are really disappointing,” said Winona Mayor Mark Peterson.“But I want to be clear that we cannot just broadly blame college students. We don’t know for sure where all these new cases came from. We know a majority of young people are working hard to be healthy and keep their schools and universities open, and we appreciate their efforts.”

Over the past weeks, the city has worked closely with both universities to keep students safe and healthy in the community. Including ensuring COVID-19 safety plans are being followed at retail businesses to accommodate increased traffic, bar compliance checks, weekend neighborhood patrols, and regular visits to Latsch Island, SugarLoaf, and other popular destinations.

“We know the universities have great plans for their students on campus and commend them for it,” Peterson said. “At the same time, we all know that there’s only so much we can do for young people living off-campus.”

The city continues to closely watch case numbers over the next 7-14 days, as they will primarily reflect the immediate impact of returning college students.

“We hope, for the sake of Winona’s schools, universities and businesses, that not just young people but all residents will consistently make the right decisions that allow our community to stay open,” Peterson said.