La Crosse County COVID-19 cases spiking again right before the holiday season

The health department's public information officer says La Crosse County is averaging roughly 75 new cases per day

LA CROSSE COUNTY (WKBT) – While many of us are looking forward to the holidays, an unwanted guest is lingering in our community.

COVID-19 cases are surging right before the holiday season.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported more than 3,500 new cases Wednesday, and nearly 4,300 on Tuesday.

The current seven-day case average is highest it’s been since last December, before vaccines were widely available.

“It’s not unexpected this time of year as it’s colder outside, and people are gathering indoors,” La Crosse County Health Department public information officer Paula Silha said.

Silha says La Crosse County is averaging roughly 75 new cases per day.

But vaccinations are also going up.

According to DHS data, 61.5 percent of county residents are now fully vaccinated.

Silha says vaccinations are playing a key role in preventing cases from rising even higher.

“They’re not 100 percent (effective), and I would liken that to the flu vaccination,” Silha said. “If we get our annual flu vaccination, that’s not 100 percent either. But it does protect people from severe illness.”

Both hospital systems say vaccinations are preventing patients from getting sicker.

Mayo Clinic Health System’s spokesman says most of its hospitalized patients are not suffering from COVID.

While at Gundersen Health System, it’s spokesman says the majority of its hospital patients have the virus.

But the patients with the most severe symptoms are not immunized.

Gundersen infection preventionist Megan Meller says if you’re fully vaccinated, there’s little risk to gathering for Thanksgiving.

“It’s safe within reason,” Meller said.

But if you are feeling ill on the holiday itself, Meller says it’s best you stay home.

“The last thing that we want to see happen is for someone to spread COVID-19 to a grandparent,” Meller said.

Vaccinations are up, but so are cases.

And Silha says we’re not out of the woods yet.

“We’d all like to just be done with the pandemic, but we’re not quite done yet,” Silha said.

Even if you got a vaccine booster right before Thanksgiving, keep in mind it won’t fully take effect until after the holiday.

Similar to the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, it takes two weeks for full protection to kick in.

If you’re gathering with people from outside your household, the health department recommends you wear a mask.