Viterbo senior teaching peers about COVID-19 prevention leading by example

La Crosse continues to catch national attention with COVID-19 case growth; one La Crosse student is focusing on solutions
Viterbo Senior Teaching Peers About Covid 19 Prevention Leading By Example

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – La Crosse remains at the top of the New York Times’ list of communities where coronavirus cases are growing the fastest. No one person can solve this pandemic. However, one Viterbo student is educating his peers about COVID-19 prevention through his actions, as COVID-19 cases among college students and young people continue to rise.

Those of us who thought little ole La Crosse wasn’t on the map now have our moment on the radar.

“To see La Crosse listed on the New York Times was crazy,” said Viterbo senior Tommy Krob.

Headlining the fastest growing community for COVID-19 case growth isn’t exactly a PR (public relations) victory for this Western Wisconsin community.

“It’s unbelievable,” Krob said.

Colleges opened and students gathered at bars and other gatherings in large numbers. What followed was record new positive COVID-19 tests.

Over the last week, about 83 percent of new cases are people ages 10-29. Krob lived with his parents this summer in Arizona before coming back to Wisconsin.

“My dad has preexisting conditions, so he was super, super worried about the virus,” he said. “At that point that was the danger zone.”

Wisconsin was his family’s safe zone.

“And now those tables have completely turned,” Krob said.

There are more than 200,000 American lives lost from COVID-19.

“I certainly never expected that it would even get (to this),” Krob said. “I mean, 100,000 was wild enough … it’s really just the most heartbreaking thing to me.”

As president of Viterbo’s student government, he put his passion toward action.

“We made these fun masks to give away,” Krob said. “We ordered a thousand of these, and we did a couple tabling events the first week of school to hand them out.”

Krob is also a peer advisor.

“It’s my job to have to report people if they are not wearing a mask, or if I see them having guests over in their apartment,” he said.

He said he really doesn’t want to monitor his peers, he just tries to set a good example for them to follow.

“The only person that ever sees me without a mask is my roommate,” he said.

He doesn’t live by words. His actions echo throughout Viterbo’s campus.

“If I want to hang out with people I either do it digitally, or we meet outside,” Krob said.

This music theater major has the same problems facing most college students.

“And so my job doesn’t really exist right now,” he said.

He’s a senior navigating this time that has no expiration date.

“This is my life, and even if I don’t love it, I have to accept that,” Krob said.

Krob is a student leader existing in this moment while being a small part of the solution, but a solution nonetheless.

“And it’s an adjustment but it’s so doable and so natural,” Krob said.

Krob said they will continue handing masks out to students. He said he hopes people listen to heath experts this fall. He said everyone has a responsibility to keep others safe.