COVID-19 Response

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions 

Minnesota Helpline 

For questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, call
651-297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504
Mon-Fri: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

What is the definition of a “close contact” of someone with COVID-19?

According to the CDC, a close contact is someone who is within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.

Why is it that the numbers don’t match up to MDH all the time?

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, all data is preliminary and may change as cases are investigated. Totals reflect only the results from laboratory testing. There are more cases in Minnesota, and the virus is circulating in communities.

Why do you not report recovered cases?

Due to the nature of this virus, we are unable to officially report if an individual has recovered from COVID-19. Instead, the term “out of isolation” is used to indicate individuals that are estimated to be past their infectious period.

What is the procedure for Winona County residents who are tested outside of the county?
The procedure is those positive tests get reported to the Minnesota Department of Health and then to the County of residence, even with out of state tests.

Where things get confusing and sometimes numbers change is when people do not report their current address to the health care provider who did the test. This gets straightened out during contact tracing but sometimes this causes numbers to go up and down.

Why aren’t you reporting the number of active cases?

Due to the uncertainty of when exactly individuals contract the virus, we are unable to establish a number of “active” cases with 100% certainty. In addition, if we can’t determine exactly when the positive individual contracts the disease, we can’t determine when the person is “virus free”. What we do know is that there are active cases in the community, likely untested and asymptomatic, and the possibility of spread is very real.

Do you include the positive anti-body test in the positive case count?

No we do not.

COVID symptoms?

Contact tracing information

Interviewers use pre-approved questions for case investigations and contact tracing. Interviewers will never ask for or write down immigration status, social security number, financial information or marital status.

Information collected during interviews will only be used by the public health agencies. Information is protected in secure systems and individual information is not shared with anyone else. Interviewers operate under strict confidentiality rules.

Will I be denied care by first responders if I call and say I have COVID?

Some people are afraid to report their symptoms because they are afraid that we will not come to their rescue. First responders will always help you, no matter what.

When you call 9-1-1, a dispatcher will ask you a few screening questions about COVID-19. We ask that you answer these questions to the best of your ability and are honest about your answers. The questions are to help us serve you in the best way possible.

Where can I get information about the cases in nursing homes or congregate care facilities?

Locations of individual cases is protected information and can not be released. Information on cases in congregate care facilities can be found at

Why is Winona County not identifying businesses that have an employee test positive?

We currently don’t list all businesses with cases publicly because there’s not a public health reason to do that. When we identify a cluster, we reach out to the businesses to see what can be done to limit spread, etc. We make recommendations on any interventions if needed. But every business, every situation is different, depending on the layout of the business, the type of activities and the amount of interaction between the business and the public. Some businesses may have three cases but doing everything right and no action is needed.  If there is a public health need we will work with the business and release the information.  Many businesses have voluntarily released when a case has been identified.

Where can we find updates?

World Health Organization:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Minnesota Dept. of Health:

Johns Hopkins University Dashboard:

Winona County COVID-19 Status Report via Johns Hopkins University:


Local public health does not have authority to share private health data, which includes the address of those who test positive with COVID-19, or any other identifying information. Such sharing is a violation of the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, Minn. Stat.13.09 (a) and (b).

Updated: October 22, 2020 at 2:00 PM