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Mayor urges testing for people who attended Duluth Trump rally

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: October 02, 2020 06:12 PM

Mayor Emily Larson is urging people who attended President Donald Trump's rally in Duluth this week to get tested for COVID-19 after the president said he tested positive.

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“The news of anyone contracting COVID-19 is scary and unsettling. If you were at the rally on Wednesday, please wear a mask, visit your healthcare provider to be tested, or go to the DECC to get a free test," Larson said.

The mayor urged people who were at the rally to self-isolate and adhere to state and federal guidelines.

"I truly wish the President, First Lady, and anyone else who has been diagnosed a full and speedy recovery," Larson said.

The Minnesota Department of Health issued a similar statement, saying, "Our thoughts are with President Trump, the First Lady and others as they deal with COVID-19 infections. We wish them a speedy and full recovery. The public health response to this development is the same as it would be for any other situation involving positive cases and close contacts."

MDH said while they work with other public health departments collaboratively, their department does not get involved in the contact tracing for President Trump and his staff, or for others who are not Minnesota residents.

MDH said their focus is on contact tracing and case investigations for Minnesota residents.

The department also said there is a potential risk that transmission occurred at the Duluth rally and other events associated with President Trump’s visit, since community transmission was high in St. Louis County prior to the rally, and people who went to the rally may have been infectious without realizing it.

Trump's recent rallies in Minnesota have shown big crowds. The Bemidji Fire Department said the rally on Sept. 18 had over 11,000 people inside the barriers and about 5,000 outside the rally too.

A City of Duluth official said the Duluth Airport rally had about 3,000 people. With little social distancing and mask use, health officials are worried.

"We're seeing a lot more community transmission so we are concerned, especially given the increase in our rates and the likely exposure," said Amy Westbrook, the St. Louis County Public Health Division Director.

Westbrook said people from all over the area and different states attended the rally too.

"The focus must be now on limiting the ripple effect and slowing down any secondary transmission as a result," said Kris Ehresmann, the Minnesota Department of Health Infectious Disease Division Director.

Since symptoms can take time to appear health officials are recommending people get tested five to seven days after the rallly.

"A test result is just a point in time. Incubation period for COVID-19 can be as short as two days or as long as two weeks," said Westbrook.

Westbrook also said it's important to continue following COVID-19 health guidelines.

"Even at a large gathering outdoors, it's really important to still be wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing. The highest risk is within spending 15 minutes within six feet of someone so the close contact is really where the highest risk occurs," said Westbrook.

MDH released guidance on what people should do:

  • Anyone who attended events associated with the President’s visit and who now has symptoms should get tested right away.
  • People should consider getting tested even if they do not have symptoms because some people may not develop or recognize symptoms and people can spread the virus even without displaying symptoms. People should get tested five to seven days after the event. If they test negative, they should get tested again around 12 days after the event. People should get tested in their home communities and seek testing from their health care provider.
  • Anyone who was a direct contact of President Trump or known COVID-19 cases needs to quarantine and should get tested. It is important to understand that quarantine for 14 days is necessary regardless of test results.
  • Anyone who attended any large group gathering, especially one with limited social distancing and/or masking, should be alert to potential symptoms of COVID-19 infection, and limit social interactions for 14 days. This is true even if they feel no symptoms of illness.

Any Minnesotan wishing to be tested in the Duluth area can get a test at the testing site set up at the DECC.

There will also be seven community testing sites around the state next week on October 6-8, including in Cloquet. Click here for more information on testing sites.

Credits

Alejandra Palacios

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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