Masks won’t go away post pandemic, La Crosse and Madison health experts say

Gundersen Health System will continue requiring masks for staff, patients and visitors

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – We’ve all heard the rules, ‘Wear a mask, wash your hands, and socially distance.’ However, masks will likely remain part of society’s new status quo once the pandemic is over.

Health leaders credit masks for the decline in COVID-19 spread as well as the flu virus spread. One UW School of Medicine and Public Health associate professor says he believes masks will be the norm especially when there’s a high rate of respiratory infection in communities.

“It doesn’t have to be COVID, it could be influenza. It other viruses like influenza,” Ajay Sethi said. “It could be other viruses that are circulating during our winter months. Mask use might be very useful in just keeping those things at bay.”

Likely masks will remain optional for people. However, businesses and organizations could keep masks recommendations in place during peak virus seasons.
Both La Crosse Hospitals still require patients and visitors wear masks. That’s likely to continue.

“We see the sick. That makes us a high risk,” Megan Meller said, an infection preventionist with Gundersen Health System. “No matter what I think to play it safe we’re going to continue to require masking for the time being.”

Doctors are still recommending people receive their COVID-19 vaccine now that the delta variant is in La Crosse. A Public Health England study found a single dose of Pfizer’s vaccine is 33 percent effective against the Delta variant and 88 percent effective with two doses.