The La Crosse County Health Department confirmed 47 new cases of COVID-19 from during the weekend and Monday.
The department did not give daily updates during the weekend, but on Monday reported that 19 new cases were confirmed on Saturday, 16 new cases on Sunday, and 12 on Monday, bringing the new total to 428.
Currently, two individuals are hospitalized with the virus in the county, and there remains no virus-related deaths.
Officials reported that those in their 20s continued to be strongly affected by the virus in the area, but that overall case numbers were on a downward trend.
“We’ll see if that trend continues or not,” health department director Jen Rombalski said at a press conference on Monday.
June has been the county’s most infectious month, accounting for more than 85% of the area’s overall cases, which have more than doubled since just June 16.
There are currently 246 active cases in La Crosse County, which is 57% of all cases, Rombalski said.
Across the state, only 18% of total cases are still active, which means they have not yet been considered recovered.
The state confirmed an additional 315 cases on Monday, bringing its total to 28,058. No new deaths were reported, leaving its total at 777, and 14 new hospitalizations were reported.
Looking ahead to the next few weeks and the rest of summer, officials were worried that gatherings and holidays could keep the county’s surge going, and that it could put more strain on the health-care response.
“When I think about the biggest challenges in the next two to three weeks, I think about the past” weeks, Rombalski said. “If we don’t change behaviors across the community, we won’t get a handle on these case numbers.”
Specifically, officials showed concern about celebrations for the Fourth of July this weekend, urging community members not to gather.
“We don’t recommend getting together with others and having events around the Fourth of July,” Rombalski said.
“We know that it will happen,” she continued, “we want it to be as safe as possible.”
Tips for those who choose to gather for the holiday included keeping crowds small, celebrating largely outdoors — including bathroom use and meals — wearing masks, physical distancing, and being cautious of shared surfaces, such as condiment bottles or silverware.
Officials said they were also growing worrisome about the health-care response to the area’s surge in cases, especially in testing, which is still currently only offered to those who show symptoms of the disease.
“I can understand that this is frustrating, perhaps, to hear that La Crosse County is not in a place where we can open up those testing criterias,” Rombalski said.
She added that health-care institutions in the area are “overwhelmed,” specifically in the last week and a half.
According to Rombalski, the area’s drive-thru testing sites typically administer 200-270 tests a day, but several times last week more than 500 tests were administered in a day.
“That is a lot of testing to be done in a single day,” Rombalski said.
The free National Guard testing sites have been helping relieve some of the stress on resources, she added, but there is added worry because funding for those sites will be cut off in mid-August.
“If we cannot decrease the spread, you know, then we will have continued large volumes of cases coming in. And because of the last few weeks of that happening for us, it has put a lot of stress and strain on the response mechanisms to keep up with those cases,” Rombalski said.
The county also announced on Monday that it will now only notify businesses that experience a high-risk of COVID-19 spread, and that it will update its online list of businesses that have any level of risk on weekdays at 4 p.m.
The county will offer another free, National Guard testing site on July 10 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at Logan High School for anyone who is symptomatic with COVID-19.
“We don’t recommend getting together with others and having events around the Fourth of July. We know that it will happen; we want it to be as safe as possible.” Jen Rombalski, county health director
"We don’t recommend getting together with others and having events around the Fourth of July. We know that it will happen; we want it to be as safe as possible."
Jen Rombalski, county health director