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The 20-29 age group continues to lead Eau Claire County in COVID-19 cases

Published: Sep. 17, 2020 at 8:57 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - No changes were made Thursday to tighten the Eau Claire City-County health order, and no new restrictions are added.

However, there are some new recommendations for higher education institutions.

Eau Claire City-County Health Department Director Lieske Giese and UWEC Chancellor James Schmidt both agree education needs to be a priority, even during a pandemic.

That’s why the two have worked very closely together to find ways to test students and faculty often, and monitor symptoms to help fight the spread of COVID-19.

“National models show that for our population size, we should be targeting to be at about 10 cases per day. We are way outside that range right now,” said Giese.

Looking at the numbers, statewide, and locally, the 20-29 age group has the highest percentage of COVID-19 cases.

Many have started to point fingers at universities and higher education as they bring students back to campus.

Chancellor Schmidt held a briefing Thursday evening to address questions and concerns.

“The good news is that we’ve had no COVID cases traced back to classrooms or work spaces on campus,” said Schmidt.

Geise says this good news is transferable across all educational institutions in town.

“We have had very, very few cases of close contacts within a school setting whether that be K-12, CVTC, or UWEC.”

Currently, one third of classes are entirely remote at UWEC.

Giese says while case numbers are high, the 20-29 age group is seeing low levels of symptoms and hospitalizations.

Giese also says the bigger picture is this age group, being a more social demographic, often interacts with other community members.

“They are socializing they are interacting with multiple generations, grandparents, parents and younger siblings.”

In order to help combat the spread, UWEC started rapid testing.

“This was made possible through the CARES funding Governor Evers released 32 million dollars to the UW system to ramp up the testing for students staying in our dormitories,” said Schmidt.

Since school began just over two weeks ago, the university reports 203 positive tests.

Currently, 89 students are in quarantine, 38 in isolation.

Since September 1st, Giese says about 45% of the county’s positive cases are affiliated with UW-Eau Claire.

She also says the vast majority of those positive cases are students who live off campus

Copyright 2020 WEAU. All rights reserved.

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