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Mayo officials say COVID case rise not due to increased testing, ask residents to "keep their guard up"
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Mayo officials say COVID case rise not due to increased testing, ask residents to "keep their guard up"

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As COVID-19 cases continue to trend upward statewide and locally, Mayo Clinic Health System president Dr. Bobbie Gostout took to YouTube to express concern about the rise in infection and urge for compliance in masking and distancing.

Mayo video

Bobbi Gostout, left, and Mary Jo Williamson of Mayo Clinic Health System in a YouTube video asked residents to stay vigilant about masking and distancing as coronavirus cases increase. 

Gostout, joined by Mayo Clinic Health System chief administrative officer Mary Jo Williamson, shared in a four minute video message their alarm at the high case rates, particularly in La Crosse and Eau Claire, and said Mayo hospitals as a result are seeing “many more patients.”

“If we don’t each do our part to containing the spread of COVID-19, we risk overwhelming our health care system and having to shut down businesses and schools,” said Williamson.

While testing has become widely available locally, with the La Crosse County Health Department regularly facilitating free area testing days and both Mayo and Gundersen offering the service, Williamson says this does not account for the spike in cases, as the percent positive is also increasing.

“This is not a gradual increase that can only be attributed to additional testing, but rather exponential growth because of people letting their guard down,” Williamson stated.

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Many outbreaks are resulting from medium and large group gatherings, and Gostout noted that while we are all “fatigued” from following distancing and masking guidelines, “This is not the time to stop being safe. We are here to ask you to resist the urge.”

“People at high risk cannot be identified by age only,” Gostout stressed. “When we’re out and about we don’t know if the person next to us...may personally be at high risk, have a child battling cancer or cares for an elderly parent. While you may not be personally worried because you believe you would recover if you have the virus, others you unknowingly infect may not. As humans sharing a small space on a small planet, we have a social responsibility to protect our families, neighbors and communities and encourage others to do the same.”

Gostout and Williamson implored community members to social distancing, wear masks and wash hands frequently and thoroughly. Eight months into the local onset of COVID-19, people miss seeing their relatives, celebrating birthdays as a group and joining friends for dinner, and the upcoming holiday season will likely only exacerbate the stress of being apart. Gostourt and Williamson ask everyone to stay strong.

“This is really about humility and kindness,” Williamson said. “It’s a sacrifice for the greater good.”

To view the video message, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymJGHNQUVXU.

“This is not a gradual increase that can only be attributed to additional testing, but rather exponential growth because of people letting their guard down,” Williamson stated.

Emily Pyrek can be reached at emily.pyrek@lee.net.

"This is not a gradual increase that can only be attributed to additional testing, but rather exponential growth because of people letting their guard down," Williamson stated.

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