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La Crosse Co. Health Dept. holding off on mask mandate

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UWL students walking on campus in Sept. 2019

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - Although the infection risk remains in the red, or severe, category according to the Coulee COVID-19 Compass, the Health Department has no plans to enact a mask mandate.

Still, director Jennifer Rombalski strongly encourages people to wear face coverings in public places. Rombalski said she's still awaiting guidance from the Wisconsin Counties Association on whether the her position has the authority for such an order. In the meantime, Rombalski said she hasn't had any significant talks with the La Crosse County board about mandating masks.

"It certainly is something we want to see everyone using and wearing when they're out of their homes,” said Rombalski. “It's possible that will move forward, but again at this point there's nothing to share specifically about any communications or any actions coming forth."

A lingering concern for the fall is the influx of more than 10,000 students expected when colleges resume in about a month’s time. Rombalski said she’s particularly worried about what happens when students leave campus.

"This is one of the reasons why some of our strategies have been around engaging businesses and asking them to look at those guidelines and take the pledge to assure they are doing what is necessary to prevent spread in their establishments as well as working with engaging the 20-29 age group, which is still in progress and hopefully increase the use of mask-wearing especially off-campus," said Rombalski.

Rombalski met with representatives from La Crosse’s higher learning institutions on Wednesday. During the second of a series of meetings until classes resume, they focused on quarantine and isolation protocol on campus. Testing capability and procedure is on the upcoming agenda.

As for the pledge Rombalski mentioned, 163 businesses have vowed to “Check the Spread” by implementing county-recommended guidelines. You can see that list by clicking here.

RELATED: Regional Update: Nine new cases in La Crosse Co., new high-risk locations added to county website

According to the CDC, symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Dustin Luecke

Dustin Luecke anchors News 19 Daybreak weekday mornings.

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