LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - The La Crosse County Health Department and both medical facilities share their concerns and provide suggestions for stemming an increase in the number of COVID cases among young people.
In a statement issued by the health department, Gundersen Health System, and Mayo Clinic Health System, it said there's been a rise in the number of cases particularly among middle and high school students.
They cite figures showing 82 positive cases of COVID-19 in K-12 students in the past two and a half weeks in county schools. An additional 695 students are on quarantine due to close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
Many of the cases were determined to be two COVID-19 variants that are easier to spread. Two of the children developed Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C) after they were infected.
The statement said that schools follow guidelines to keep students safe during the school day. New COVID-19 cases, they said, are happening when people are in groups and not following public health guidelines on wearing a mask or social distancing.
It said 22 of the cases were traced back to extra-curricular activities such as athletics, choir, and drama.
There is concern expressed by the three that if cases continue to grow, extra-curricular activities may get cancelled or students return to distance learning.
The statement goes on to say that "We recognize the fatigue connected to continually following health and safety guidance, but the science is clear:
Masking and distancing reduce the spread of COVID-19."
The three facilities do offer recommendations. From the statement:
Parents play an important role in helping schools continue in-person learning.
• As a spectator at school events, keep at least six feet of distance from non-family members. Wear a mask in group settings and ask fellow parents or spectators to wear their masks.
• If a student is experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, even if mild, keep them home from school, work and extracurricular activities and get them tested.
• Follow quarantine guidance from your local health department, health care provider or school nurse. Stay home from all activities for the full length of quarantine. Quarantine can only be shortened to 7 or 10 days if specific criteria are met; these criteria are not possible in all school settings which may mean the student must remain home for 14 days.
• Ensure family members are vaccinated for COVID-19. Vaccines are safe and effective and teens 16 and older are eligible. Vaccination is critically important to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and returning to regular life. Find local vaccinators through vaccinefinder.org.