WINONA — On Monday, the Winona City Council affirmed Mayor Mark Peterson's citywide mask order, extending his requirement to wear masks in public indoor spaces through Sept. 8.

Days later, Gov. Tim Walz ordered every Minnesotan, in general, to wear a face covering when in public, beginning Saturday. The mandate would run out when the governor ends the peacetime emergency for COVID-19, but Walz said the requirement could end sooner if the state saw 90 to 95% of people comply and rates of infection dwindle. If the state mandate expires before Sept. 8, Winona's order would remain in effect.

Mark Peterson
Mark Peterson

Winona's mask order took effect on July 10. It requires all Winona residents and visitors to wear face coverings indoors in buildings generally accessible to the public, and strongly recommends wearing them anywhere where physical distancing is difficult.

"I'm pleased to get the council's support on this critical measure to protect the health of all Winonans," Peterson said. "Wearing masks has been demonstrated as one of the single best ways to limit the spread of COVID-19."

Residents can learn more about the mask order, and get answers to dozens of common questions, online at Businesses seeking specific advice can visit, and download a printable poster with mask rules to hang on front windows and doors.

Anyone who does not comply and who does not meet a reason for exemption will be asked to leave the business or area. If they refuse, law enforcement may enforce trespassing laws. Businesses that violate the order may face administrative action for any licenses they possess with the city.

Flowering rush invasion spotted in Upper Mississippi River NWFR

A new pink, flowering plant that's found its way to the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge might look nice, but the Fish and Wildlife Service is asking folks not to transplant the plant and help prevent its spread.

Flowering rush, an plant native to Eurasia, has invaded North America. Blooms begin in mid-June and last into late summer. The plant crowds out native vegetation, which is a better food and habitat resource for wildlife. The aquatic plant negatively impacts fish and waterfowl habitats in the refuge. Because of its negative impact, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials want to know where this plant is growing.

If you find flowering rush, FWS officials ask that you not dig it up – the plant spreads via pieces that can be broken off during removal attempts – but instead take a photo with your phone and report the plant's location on the EDDMapS at then leave it alone. You can also call (507) 454-7351.

Saint Mary's University reopens some outdoor venues

WINONA — As part of its fall opening plan, and in keeping with local and state COVID-19 safety guidelines, Saint Mary’s University is reopening its walking trails and The Woods Disc Golf Course to the general public beginning Aug. 1.

The public is asked to maintain social distance with other users and wear a mask when social distancing may not be possible.

Several buildings on the Winona campus remain closed to the public including the Jul Gernes Pool, workout facilities in the Gostomski Fieldhouse, the ice arena, the gymnasium, the Fitzgerald Library, Saint Thomas More Chapel, the Alverna Center and the outdoor track. Furthermore, these facilities are not available for rent with the exception of the Chapel of Saint Mary of the Angels.

Saint Mary’s i.t.a. Clinic will also switch to virtual use this fall, and Saint Mary’s will be in touch with families learning the reading program.