It’s been a little over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic first reached the Coulee Region. Five months ago, we started administering the first vaccines to frontline health care workers. Today, nearly 50% of La Crosse County residents have received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. We are pleased to see local businesses reopening and restaurants expanding seating capacity.
We have been able to reach this point because of our collective efforts to stop the spread of the virus. You have been masking, social distancing and getting the vaccine as soon as you’ve been able. Together, we have been able to markedly decrease the community infection rate.
Yet, new COVID-19 variants are impacting our community, leading to increases in case numbers and hospitalizations. We are all fatigued by the continued battle, but we risk allowing victory to slip through our grasp if we let our guard down now. Thankfully, we know what we need to do to.
We encourage all eligible individuals to get the vaccine as soon as possible. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and it’s the surest way for us to end the pandemic. There is plenty of vaccine available at all local vaccinators. Protect yourself, your family, your neighbors, and our community. At the same time, we must continue with the methods proven to protect against COVID-19 spread – masking, distancing, hand hygiene and staying home when ill.
You are the key to keep the positive momentum going. Stay the course with us just a little bit longer. It will be worth the effort; lives will be saved, and we will return to living as we did before the pandemic more quickly.
Thank you for all that you have done and will continue to do for the good of our community.
Scott Rathgaber, MD, CEO, Gundersen Health System
Paul Mueller, MD, Regional Vice President, Mayo Clinic Health System