La Crosse County Health Department responds to Supreme Court ruling


During an emergency briefing Thursday morning, the La Crosse County Health Department said it’s too soon to re-open the community.

The department does not believe it has reached the peak in the pandemic and says returning to normal life now could be dangerous.

“A complete return to functions prior to COVID-19 will definitely increase our cases and will very likely result in severe disease including hospitalizations and also very possibly deaths of our county residents,” said Jennifer Rombalski, the La Crosse County Health Department director.

The health department is asking community members to follow eight guidelines now that a statewide Safer-at-Home order is no longer in place.

The recommendations range from washing hands and wearing face coverings to minimizing travel and group gatherings.

Officials believe the Safer-at-Home order did slow the spread of the virus–something the department says recently spiked again.

“Already this week, we’ve had seven new cases and we haven’t had this testing site and that testing site we anticipate will bring in additional positive cases,” Rombalski said.

That testing site is one facilitated by the National Guard.

Next Thursday May 21 at Onalaska’s Omni Center, the site will test anyone with symptoms from 11 am to 7 pm.

The health department is in contact with other counties since the Supreme Court ruling and the director noted the county can still enforce its own order.

“There are a number of options that are available to us,” Rombalski said. “One of them is just to take all of the language in the Safer-At-Home order and write that into a health order underneath the statutory authority that health officers receive.”

However, the department believes now is the time to see if community members can follow guidelines on their own.

If things need to be implemented down the road, the director says she will do so.

“If we have a problem that we need to solve in order to reduce the spread of disease in our communities, we will take action,” Rombalski said. “We must do what is reasonable and necessary to prevent disease.”

The health department says while there is no legal punishment for not following its guidelines, it reminds the community the actions you take can impact the lives of others.

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