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La Crosse County officials could unveil successor to COVID Compass by Friday

Brad Williams

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By the end of this week, people in La Crosse County should know what will replace the compass system that measured the local threat from COVID-19. 

The county abruptly announced Friday that the COVID-19 compass would be discontinued, and county health director Jen Rombalski said at a County Board meeting Monday night it wasn’t her call.

“I didn’t see it coming,” said Rombalski. “It wasn’t something that I made the decision to stop it abruptly.”

Rombalski and county administrator Steve O’Malley told the county board that the compass wasn’t as flexible as it should have been. 

“What would happen if we would have an even worse-case scenario, like Racine County or Brown County?” O’Malley asked. “We couldn’t go any further into the red. We were already in to the red.”

That apparently means the measuring scale may have been at the highest level of red more often than was justified.  

O’Malley added many Wisconsin counties haven’t even developed a measuring scale like the compass yet.

Several county board members expressed concern about why the compass was discontinued, without a new measurement system ready to go.  The compass was used by multiple surrounding counties to La Crosse.

They’re worried that school districts made their plans for starting class in September based on a monitoring system that has been scrapped, and one supervisor suggested that the decision to scrap the compass might feed into the theory that the pandemic isn’t real. 

A new system could be announced by Friday. 

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.