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Coronavirus

La Crosse’s health department hopeful for COVID-19 vaccine this fall

Kaitlyn Riley

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The La Crosse County Health Department expressed cautious optimism for the Coronavirus pandemic during a weekly press briefing Monday with lower case counts and whispers of a vaccine.

Health Director Jen Rombalski said if there is a vaccine available in the fall, it could be incorporated into flu vaccination clinics already in the works.

“If there is a limited quantity, then it will likely come with directions about who can receive the vaccine,” Rombalski said.

She anticipated the first to qualify would be those with the highest risk of severe complications from contracting COVID-19 such as the immunocompromised or those with underlying health conditions.

“We have not details yet but hope it comes as soon as possible because that is the best way we will get herd immunity,” Rombalski said. “We don’t know enough about the virus. We know people can be exposed more than once. The sooner a vaccine can come, the less impact that we will see on the health of our residents as well as businesses and other aspects of our community.”

Individuals who do test positive a second time for COVID-19 would follow the same process of quarantine and isolation as in the first incident.

Reporting just six new cases Monday, Rombalski said the downward trend cannot be an excuse to stop wearing face masks and practicing social distancing.

“If you made a behavior change, keep it up,” Rombalski said. “We see a pretty significant percentage who are in the community and may be positive before they realize they are spreading the virus.”

Time will only tell if Fourth of July celebrations will lead to another spike in cases.

The La Crosse County Health Department is working with the National Guard to host a free testing site at Logan high school Friday, July 10 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Nearly 400 tests will be available. Samples will be taken with a nasal swab which is described as less invasive than the nasopharyngeal swab.

Kaitlyn Riley’s passion for communications started on her family’s dairy farm in Gays Mills, Wis. Wanting to share agriculture’s story, she studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college, she held officer positions with the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club while volunteering as a news reporter for the college radio station. She also founded the university’s first agricultural radio talk show, AgChat. In her professional career, Kaitlyn has worked in both radio, print and television news doing everything from covering local events to interviewing presidential candidates, and putting back on her barn boots to chat with farmers in the field. Today, Kaitlyn can be seen covering local stories that matter to you in the La Crosse area.