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HEALTH BRIEFING: Heads of La Crosse hospitals, schools urge more vaccination and testing to fight COVID

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La Crosse’s two hospitals and the La Crosse School District superintendent are urging the public to be careful around others, because of the rapid spread of the omicron variant.

The heads of Gundersen Health System and Mayo Clinic Health System joined with Superintendent Dr. Aaron Engel, and La Crosse County Health Director Audra Martine on Friday to publicly discuss the rise in COVID-19 cases.

Engel said decisions on remote learning probably will be made for individual schools, rather than the entire district at once.

“If it comes to our elementary schools having to close, that will have an additional impact on our community, with parents having to watch their children, and we’re trying to avoid that every way we can, and we’re need your help to make it happen,” Engel urged the public in an on-line announcement by the Coulee Collaborative.

The county has been averaging 138 new COVID cases a day in the past week. Health experts predict that a surge of new COVID cases in the upper Midwest could continue for another month.

Gundersen CEO Dr. Scott Rathgaber says his company’s hospitals have been seeing 40 to 50 new patients a day in the past week.

Logan Middle School in La Crosse is scheduled to resume classes Monday, after being closed Thursday and Friday. But the La Crescent-Hokah schools will have remote learning all this week, as area school districts figure out how to handle a new surge of COVID-19.

Dr. Paul Mueller, the CEO of Mayo Health in La Crosse, includes behaving as if most other people have been infected.

“Just assume now in this situation for the next weeks or perhaps throughout the month that people in the community are positive around you,” Mueller said.

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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