La Crosse County officials move to ‘community-based’ COVID-19 risk assessment

La Crosse County health experts drop Compass to include more metrics when labeling risk of COVID-19 spread
Risk Covid 19

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – La Crosse health officials have a new method to show how La Crosse is doing with COVID-19 spread. Leaders announced Thursday the former virus spread risk tool, the Coulee COVID-19 Compass, would no longer be used.

Health officials continue to learn more about COVID-19. Its complicated nature affects every piece of society differently. La Crosse leaders are changing their approach to figure out how the community is doing. La Crosse County officials say the former county COVID-19 risk report served its purpose.

“For some, the Compass was confusing and wasn’t an accurate view of the risk level,” said Steve O’Malley, La Crosse County administrator. “While for others, they expected the Compass to provide all the answers.”

La Crosse County leaders are moving on to a new community-based risk assessment tool. The tool will involve community partners including healthcare organizations, school districts, and businesses.

“The new tool will include nine metrics, which will cover both health care and public health while providing a more nuanced assessment that will reflect a more accurate snapshot of the current risk to the community,” said Dr. Paul Mueller, regional vice president for Mayo Clinic Health System.

Three of the nine factors include daily case rate, daily hospitalization rate, and hospital capacity.

La Crosse County Health Director Jen Rombalski said they are changing their approach with the new information they know.

“We have to be flexible and if something is not the most effective tool or support for our community and we can make it better, then we need to do that,” Rombalski said.

Since every person, business, and organization is different, they wanted to include more metrics to show the real risk to the community.

“We need to get on with living in our community in this virus environment,” Mueller said.

Local school districts relied on the Compass in order to make decisions about the fall semester. Local health officials say this doesn’t affect local districts’ timeline.  Officials expect districts will use their new risk process moving forward.