La Crosse County now has 63 confirmed cases of COVID-19, after officials confirmed an additional three cases on Wednesday.
There have been seven new cases confirmed in the last two days, and nine since last Friday, but there are currently no hospitalizations and no confirmed deaths.
“It’s just about doing the best that we can to make good choices and lowering risks whenever possible,” health department director Jen Rombalski said.
She said county officials couldn’t connect the new cases to any particular event yet, but she is growing worried about summer travel and increased public activities around the area.
The three new cases reported were a man in his 20s, a woman in her 40s and a man in his 70s, which Rombalski said is a good indicator of how widespread the disease is.
In Wisconsin, 483 new cases were confirmed Wednesday and nine new deaths related to the disease, with 14% of the state’s cases hospitalized.
This brings the statewide totals to 19,400 total confirmed cases and 616 deaths.
Officials said that the area remains in the “high-risk” category for the potential spread of the disease.
The health department also reported that it has had more difficulty with contact tracing, some individuals hesitant about sharing who they’ve had contact with, Rombalski saying the tracing is like a puzzle.
“That concerns us,” she said. “It makes the risk level for all of us go up” if officials cannot track and understand the spread of the virus in the community.
Rombalski added that other health departments across the state have also seen an increased difficulty in contact tracing.
“That is something we’re going to monitor carefully, and we do our very best to make sure we can determine those exposures, because it is important for anyone who has been exposed to be aware,” she said.
The area will also be holding another drive-up testing site with the National Guard next week on June 8 at the Wisconsin Technical Center parking lot.
The group will be releasing more information on the event, but it will again be open to anyone who is showing any of the symptoms of the virus, even if mild.
As members of the community gather to protest the killing of George Floyd, officials also reminded folks who are participating to wear masks and stay six feet apart from each other if possible.
Exposure to the disease at a peaceful protest “would be extremely tragic,” Rombalski said. “Especially in a population that has been hit harder.”
The black community has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, Rombalski reminded residents, because of existing public health disparities it already experiences.
On Tuesday, the health department was quiet on its social media platforms in support of the #BlackOutTuesday campaign, intended to silence all posts not related to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Rombalski explained that it took that stance because of the importance of combating racism within public health.
“It is my hope that all of us can be willing to learn and listen and be willing to step on to that journey, knowing that it may take years, decades even, to understand really what it is,” she said.
The health department also announced that the county has collected 68,189 pounds of canned goods and $309,586 from its Food Drive Fridays, which concluded last week. It received $75,000 in matching monetary donations as well.
The department’s livestreamed briefings will now be held weekly on Wednesdays, it announced, instead of twice weekly. The next briefing will be Wednesday, June 10.
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