Director says former employee spread misinformation, PCPH releases statement

    A COVID-19 positive case created a stir on social media last week after the New Hope Food Shelf, which is housed at the Care and Share shelter in Crookston, posted there was possible exposure to the virus for anyone that recently visited for food boxes. Care and Share Director Brian Halos told the Times that a former employee still had access to the food shelf’s Facebook page and that the post had the information wrong.

    Halos explained that their maintenance person, who used to live at the shelter but hasn’t been in the building since March, had returned to work at the Care and Share and shared the news that he had tested positive for COVID-19. Halos said the maintenance person was in their building for a “couple hours” in a work room and had contact with three staff people during that time, but never accessed the food shelf.

    “The person who tested positive is asymptomatic, but not sick and the people he had contact with had been immediately removed from the building,” Halos explained. “If those people’s tests come back positive they will be out of the building for two weeks.”

    “We talked to public health about the situation and they said we did all the right things,” he added later in the conversation. “We were told by public health that exposure to an exposure isn’t a thing.”

    In regards to the former employee who created the post on the New Hope Food Shelf page, Halos said that person was trying to “stir up stuff” and that the shelter wasn’t interested in bringing her back to work there at this time.

    The former employee of the New Hope Food Shelf spoke with the Times and said she posted the news of the possible exposure after speaking with the staff member who tested positive because she wanted people who recently visited the food shelf to be aware. She also said she had concerns about other Care and Share/Food Shelf staff and shelter residents not being informed in a timely matter.  

    The situation caused Polk County Public Health to release a statement regarding exposures to COVID-19 and how its spread occurs.

    “This is a great opportunity for us to provide accurate information regarding exposures to Covid-19. COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person. Spread occurs between people who are in close contact with one another through respiratory droplets. COVID-19 can be spread by people who are not showing symptoms or before their symptoms start. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines close contact as “individuals within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes”. Anyone exposed to close contacts (i.e. exposure to an exposure) does not meet the definition of close contacts.

    To stop Covid-19 from spreading in the community, our health department will follow up with known close contacts identified by a lab-confirmed individual. The goals of this conversation are to inform the person that they may have been exposed to COVID-19, answer questions, gather information for continued monitoring, and provide referrals for testing, medical evaluation, and other necessary support services.

    There is community transmission so continue to practice social distancing, be alert for symptoms, contact your healthcare provider to get tested if symptoms develop and isolate/separate yourself from others until test results are back. If you recently had close contact with a person with COVID-19, stay home and monitor your health for 14 days after your last day of exposure.

    If you have questions, please call the Polk County Public Health Covid-19 Nurse Line at 218- 281-3385. Visit the Minnesota Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites for more COVID-19 information. Follow Polk County Public Health on Facebook (@pcphealth), Instagram (@polkcountypublichealth) and Twitter (@HealthPolk) for local information. Polk County Covid-19 Response: https://coronavirus-response-pcg.hub.arcgis.com/