COVID-19 surge in La Crosse County goes beyond increased testing

Local News

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – While Oktoberfest in La Crosse was officially canceled, this past weekend still saw downtown bars filled with people celebrating. Now, the health department is offering another testing site for anyone with COVID-19 symptoms. First News at Nine’s Hayley Spitler explains how the health department is responding to the surge in cases.

The La Crosse County Health Department hosted its fourth community test site in five days on Monday. The site ran from ten am to six pm and had 450 tests available for anyone showing at least one symptom of COVID-19. Hosting these free sites is important to the department after September has seen a surge in cases for the county.

Nicole Kragness of La Crosse County Health Department said, “Our average cases per day is over 100 now and in the past, it was 15 to 17 cases per day.”

Almost 90 percent of new COVID-19 cases are in individuals ages 15 to 29. Monday’s testing site is at the La Crosse County Health Department building, but last Thursday and Friday it held testing sites on UWL’s campus although the health department says those sites didn’t see the best turnout.

“We didn’t get a ton of students. I think on Thursday we did roughly 100 to 150 tests. I’m not sure what we did on Friday or Saturday, I haven’t heard from that team yet,” said Kragness.

Due to the increase in cases, those who test positive may not receive a call from the health department. While they will be notified of test results, not all cases can be contact traced at this point. The department says the surge in cases is not because of increased testing.

“One of the metrics that we use is our positivity rate so that goes by the number of people that are tested versus the number of people who actually test positive. We are seeing that increase in our area too. I think last week it was at 39 percent,” said Kragness.

Last week, the health department and several other community partners urged students not to gather for what would have been Oktoberfest.

After a weekend that saw the downtown La Crosse bars packed, the health department says it will have to wait and see what that means for cases.

Kragness said, “We really are trying to recommend to anybody that has a symptom of COVID-19 even if it’s mild to either contact the healthcare provider via the nurse line of Mayo or Gundersen or utilize a community testing site.”

The department is working on getting additional testing sites for the nearby future.

In La Crosse, Hayley Spitler, First News at Nine.

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