LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – La Crosse County is experiencing what health officials call a concerning increase of COVID-19 infections in students, particularly those in middle and high school.
First News at Nine’s Bob Gallaher explains how the main concern is over extra-curricular activities.
In the past two and a half weeks, there have been 82 positive cases of COVID-19 in K-12 students in La Crosse County schools, with an additional 695 students in quarantine due to close contact. At least 22 of the cases in the past seven days has been connected to extra-curricular events such as athletics and fine arts groups.
Carol Engle-Drury with the La Crosse Co. Health Department says, “We do know that when we have activities where people are going to be in closer proximity that is going to have an impact if disease is still present in the community. And I think that’s what we’re seeing. We still have disease in the community, we have these new variant strains and all of that are coming into different communities so I think that’s playing a big role in this too.”
Health experts say while most cases of COVID-19 in children are mild, some children can develop severe illness. That’s why the health department is urging students who are 16 and older to get vaccinated.
“These are K-thru-12 students, many of whom are not available, aren’t eligible for vaccines right now. In that K-thru-12, we only have 16 to 18 year olds that are eligible and some of them have got vaccines, some of them have not so while other community members and family members have been vaccinated, we still have this very important population not eligible for vaccination,” says Engle-Drury.
Engle-Drury says while each school district has a set of guidelines they follow in deciding whether or not they need to close, the health department continues to monitor this latest spread in students.
“So we have some behind the scenes data people that are really doing that tracing where the cases are connected, the hospitals have been very cooperative in providing us some of that data so we can do some of that work and that really helps us make informed decisions, it helps schools make informed decisions if they need to be closing, a classroom, part of the school, an activity something like that down,” explains Engle-Drury.
She adds if your child is feeling sick to keep them at home.
Bob Gallaher, First News at Nine.