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Gundersen cutting back on workers because fewer patients are in the hospital



Staying home to avoid coronavirus has had effects on many businesses, including health care. 

Gundersen Health System of La Crosse says more than a fourth of its nearly 8,000 employees are working reduced hours or are temporarily furloughed, because patients have been asked to avoid non-emergency health care for now. 

Doctors at Gundersen have postponed elective surgeries, and that apparently has contributed to a 40 to 80 per cent decrease in business this year. 

At Gundersen, infection control specialist Bridget Pfaff says social distancing seems to be working in reducing COVID cases in the area. 

Pfaff disputes arguments that the virus should be allowed to spread, so more people can become immune to it.

“Even in areas like New York City, where they’re estimating right now maybe 14 per cent of people have been exposed and have anti-bodies,” Pfaff says, under ‘herd immunity,’ at least 70 per cent of the population would have to be infected for people to be naturally immune.    

More people are protesting in Madison on Friday, against an extension of stay-at-home orders in Wisconsin. 

Pfaff says the process of re-opening businesses may have to be gradual, such as having fewer tables or customers in restaurants than usual.

Pfaff says it’s too early to know how long someone will be immune from COVID after being infected by it.        


A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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