La Crosse County saw a significant increase in COVID-19 cases with 15 new cases reported Wednesday.
The county has 98 total confirmed cases with 56 recovered.
Two people are hospitalized, but they’re not believed to be severe cases and there are still no deaths.
Of the 15 new cases reported Wednesday, five are believed to have been tested at Monday’s National Guard site in La Crosse.
The La Crosse Country Health Department says it’s too soon to know if any of these cases are the result of protests.
La Crosse’s risk for COVID-19 spread remains in the high category, but the health department director says it was very close to shifting to severe.
“For the last seven day period we have had 35 cases,” said Jen Rombalski, the La Crosse County Health Department director. “The week prior to that, May 28th to June 3rd, we had 12 and the week prior to that, May 21st to May 27th, we had five.”
At least five of Wednesday’s 15 cases are believed to have been tested at Monday’s National Guard site.
The increase in cases is no surprise to the La Crosse County Health Department following the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s overturning of the stay-at-home order on May 14.
“We did anticipate some cases related to that, we never knew how many and I don’t think we still know how many,” Rombalski explained. “We have not peaked and will continue to see case numbers go up.”
When the order was overturned, the health department chose not to enforce any new countywide health orders.
It says while the department could create an order and cite someone for not following, that in the end the community still loses as the initial event and risk for spread took place.
“Our goal is not to cite someone and take them to court,” Rombalski said. “Our goal is to stop the spread of the virus and that is happening by close contact with others.”
Large crowds have also gathered in western Wisconsin the past two weeks to protest racial injustice.
The health department does not know if anyone who attended has tested positive as it can take up to 14 days to show symptoms.
“It is concerning to us anytime we see individuals that are close together and that is not just the protest, that happens in work places. It happens in community locations,” said Rombalski.
The department continues to ask the community to social distance, wear face coverings, and wash hands frequently.
“We have to continue those practices or its very simple–the virus will continue to spread,” Rombalski explained.
The health department says the more cases in the county, the higher chance of severe disease and potentials deaths.