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Sign at Roadside Diner sparks debate on COVID-19 prevention

Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 6:05 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - After the smell of ice cream and the sounds of chatter, one of the first things you see when you go into Roadside Ice Cream and Diner in Eau Claire is a sign on the wall.

One of the owners tells WEAU the post came in through ‘Roadside Chatter’, a section on the diner’s website where people post their thoughts.

This particular post quotes Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, who encourages people to not wear masks, to not socially distance, and to not submit to testing.

But those practices, according to the Eau Claire City-County Health Department, are tested and proven to slow the spread of disease.

“The goal of the health department is to make sure that there’s good information for people to act on, both individuals in our community and businesses and you know we’ll continue to support getting good information out to people,” said Eau Claire City-County Health Department Director Lieske Giese.

The nation's leading expert on infectious disease, Dr. Anthony Fauci, reiterating on Tuesday before a congressional committee that wearing masks and keeping a social distance are the best ways to fight COVID-19 right now.

“If you look at what’s going on, and just look at some of the film clips that you’ve seen of people congregating often without masks, of being in crowds and jumping over and avoiding and not paying attention to the guidelines that we very carefully put out. We’re going to continue to be in a lot of trouble, and there’s going to be a lot of hurt if that does not stop,” he said.

The family-owned restaurant says it’s not stopping anybody from wearing masks or socially distancing in the restaurant.

Adding the post has taken on a life of its own, sparking comments on social media on both ends of the spectrum.

In a statement to WEAU the family says,

“The post that drew public interest was information from two medical professionals, Dr. Tenpenny and Dr. Blaylock. Roadside’s intent was to simply share the information. The post was placed on roadside chatter (logo) and roadside chatter doesn’t sensor [sic] information. According to social media, the “masks” were the focus of concern. According to Dr. Russel Blaylock, “a number of studies linked prolonged mask use to headaches and lowered blood oxygen levels which can weaken immune systems.” According to Dr. Sherry [sic] Tenpenny she claims, “vaccines do not prevent infections but do cause disease.” Again, roadside only offered the post for public review. Additionally, roadside and its predecessor have maintained decades of good relations with the Eau Claire County Health Department. Thank you so much to the best customers in the world - Roadsiders.

-Robertson Family”

Giese says when the department receives complaints about any facility, the department has conversations and tries to educate as well as follow up to any specific challenges.

But the health department didn't comment on whether it's talked with the diner regarding the sign.

Instead saying most businesses appear to be following recommended guidelines.

“We are thrilled that businesses across Eau Claire, through the Chippewa Valley Economic Recovery Task Force, are working together on not only protecting their customers but also protecting their employees,” said Giese.

WEAU did reach out to the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce, who says it’s unable to formally comment on the sign.

An Eau Claire Diner is finding itself in the middle of controversy after a sign in the restaurant was posted online.

At Roadside Ice Cream and Diner on Menomonie Street in Eau Claire, a sign labeled “Roadside Chatter” in the lobby is gaining attention.

The sign gives a point of view that wearing a mask is not safe, and to refuse mandatory vaccinations and to not accept the idea of social distancing.

In a statement to WEAU, the family who owns and operates the diner says,

“The post that drew public interest was information from two medical professionals, Dr. Tenpenny and Dr. Blaylock. Roadside’s intent was to simply share the information. The post was placed on roadside chatter (logo) and roadside chatter doesn’t sensor [sic] information. According to social media, the “masks” were the focus of concern. According to Dr. Russel Blaylock, “a number of studies linked prolonged mask use to headaches and lowered blood oxygen levels which can weaken immune systems.” According to Dr. Sherry [sic] Tenpenny she claims, “vaccines do not prevent infections but do cause disease.” Again, roadside only offered the post for public review. Additionally, roadside and its predecessor have maintained decades of good relations with the Eau Claire County Health Department. Thank you so much to the best customers in the world - Roadsiders.

-Robertson Family”

Eau Claire City-County Health Department Director Lieske Giese says in any situation people may have differences of opinion, but adds COVID-19 is a virus, and the best strategy to slow the spread is to socially distance and use masks.

Copyright 2020 WEAU. All rights reserved.

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