La Crosse County ‘strongly recommending’ masking up, even for vaccinated

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — The La Crosse County Health Department is joining other health officials throughout the state in asking people to return to wearing masks to protect against COVID-19.

The health department on Friday issued a press release that local data indicates that the county is at a high level of community transmission.

“COVID-19 is still very much present in our community, and we are seeing a concerning increase in cases,” said Audra Martine, Director of the La Crosse County Health Department. “This is why we are strongly recommending that anyone over the age of 2 wear a mask in public indoor spaces and at indoor private gatherings.”

The new recommendation from public health officials follows an increase in COVID-19 cases in La Crosse County. The increase in cases is likely caused by the delta variant, which has been spreading rapidly around the nation. La Crosse County’s 7-day case rate on Wednesday, including both confirmed and probable cases, was 50 cases per 100,000 population per week, a more than 10-fold increase from 4.2 cases per 100,000 people per week on July 1.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended communities with “substantial” or “high” transmission levels return to indoor masking for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

“We need your help to try and stay ahead of this,” said Monica Kruse, La Crosse County Board Chair. “Please take the simple action of wearing a mask when necessary to protect each other, and if you have not already, please get vaccinated.”

The delta variant can spread much faster than the original strain of the virus that causes COVID-19. Although “breakthrough” infections are possible (when a vaccinated person becomes infected), the COVID-19 vaccines offer good protection against the delta variant. In rare cases when a vaccinated person is infected, they are much less likely to become seriously ill. As of July 28, the unvaccinated 7-day case rate was more than 4 times higher than the vaccinated 7-day case rate, underscoring how effective and important vaccination is as a tool to fight COVID-19.

Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are vaccinated, should stay at home, and get tested. To find out where you can get tested in La Crosse County, go to https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/testing.htm. For information on where to get a vaccine, go to https://www.vaccines.gov/search/.