COVID-19 case numbers have reached a new high within Le Sueur County, especially among adults in their 20s.

By July 13, the number of confirmed cases in Le Sueur County was at 136 (including one death) after the Minnesota Department of Health reported a cluster of infections in South Central Minnesota on June 24. MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresman told reporters that around 100 cases, so far at that time, had been linked to a number of young adults that visited multiple bars in Mankato, including Rounders and the 507, over the June 12-13 weekend. A number of those individuals work at childcare facilities.

“This is a sad example of how COVID works,” said Ehresman. “Just because you feel you’re not at risk, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get COVID and spread it to others.”

The cluster had been linked to an upswing in new cases in Le Sueur County, too. Between the week of June 21-27, 18 new cases followed by 23 additional cases reported between June 28 and July 3. In the week before, from June 14-20, the county had just five new cases.

The majority of these cases were in young people. Between June 19-26, 17 of 23 new cases were from people under the age of 25. The median age of infected county residents has trended younger and 20-29-year-olds make up 31% of those who have contracted the virus, the highest of any age group. While young people are less at risk of being hospitalized or killed by the coronavirus, they have just as much potential to spread it to others.

“Yes, their chance of severe illness is much less, but they can pass inadvertently or innocently pass this on to other people in their lives: parents, grandparents and other vulnerable people,” said Le Sueur County Public Health Director Cindy Shaughnessy.

A large number of confirmed cases in the county have been linked to bars, restaurants and large gatherings, such as weddings and church activities. Between June 22 and July 5, at least 55% of residents with confirmed cases had been exposed to the virus at gatherings. Another 34% did not respond to questions from health officials.

In response, Shaughnessy said the county plans to reach out to bars and restaurants about health guidelines, as well as young people, to ensure they know the risks of spreading it to others.

“People need to remember the things that really do make a difference,” said Shaughnessy. “The most powerful thing is social distancing. Truly, we are hearing more about airborne transmission. COVID is definitely transmitted through droplets that drop to the ground and that’s where the six feet comes from, but there’s a lot more in the news about airborne transmission.”

“If you’re going to socialize, outdoors is the best,” Shaughnessy added. “Take advantage of outdoor dining and patios. Avoid crowded indoor spaces. Truly, that is where these things are spreading. Wear a face mask when you social distance.”

Reach Reporter Carson Hughes at 507-931-8575. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All Rights Reserved.

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