WINONA — The city of Winona is asking residents to limit or postpone their holiday gatherings in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 infections.

Along with the rest of the state, the city and county of Winona have been experiencing a large number of daily cases many times higher than earlier in the pandemic. This has led to more hospitalizations and deaths.

"Please protect yourself and your loved ones this Thanksgiving and holiday season by limiting or postponing your gatherings," reads a statement from the city. "This is hard to even consider, let alone recommend. But it’s what will save lives and give the city and county a chance to slow this spread long enough to get a handle on it again."

Alternatives to in-person gatherings include virtual meetings, phone calls or emails to loved ones. For families still planning to gather, keep gatherings at 10 people or fewer with no more than three households, and consider best practice tips such as having family member take a COVID-19 test a week before the gathering, creating a list of expectations and share them with everyone.

These expectations could include limiting gatherings to a few hours, using porches, backyards, or nearby parks if weather cooperates, wearing masks indoors and outdoors, distancing at least 6 feet between individuals, and frequently washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water.

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Pine Island Library goes down to one family at a time

PINE ISLAND — The Van Horn Library in Pine Island will be limited to one person or one family unit at a time, said Library Director Rachel Gray.

The library has been informed that it came in contact with a positive case of COVID-19. Gray said closing the library allows staff to quarantine for two weeks. In the interim, curbside service is still available though this may change due to staff health and well-being concerns. The library has no reason to believe patrons who have visited the library since the contact occurred are at risk.

For more information or to contact the library, email or call City Hall at (507) 356-4591, and they can forward messages to the library staff.

Hormel Foundation donates $10.6 million to community nonprofits

AUSTIN — The Hormel Foundation board of directors approved $10.6 million in grants that will be distributed to 13 local nonprofit organizations.

"This is only possible due to the visionary plan established in 1941 by George and Jay Hormel, and the generations of hardworking employees of Hormel Foods,” said Jeffrey M. Ettinger, chairman of The Hormel Foundation. “These grants make a significant impact on peoples’ lives and have allowed us to help strengthen and benefit the lives of the people who live, work and are educated here. The important missions of these organizations impact all aspects of life whether education or art, medical research or recreation.”

The foundation's supported organizations are Austin Area Foundation, Austin Community Charitable Fund, Austin Community Growth Ventures, Austin Community Scholarship Committee, Austin Public Schools, Cedar Valley Services, City of Austin, The Hormel Institute, Mayo Clinic Health Systems-Austin, Parenting Resource Center, Riverland Community College, Salvation Army, United Way of Mower County and the YMCA of Austin.

The Hormel Foundation committed approximately $425,000 in additional funding, independent of the annual grants, to other community projects such as funding in support of COVID-19 relief.

Another 19 local non-profit agencies will receive 2021 grant funds from the George A. Hormel Testamentary Trust