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Eau Claire, La Crosse health officials recommend wearing masks indoors

Health officials in Eau Claire and La Crosse counties are recommending everyone, including...
Health officials in Eau Claire and La Crosse counties are recommending everyone, including those vaccinated, to wear masks indoors due to the increasing spread of COVID-19.(NBC29)
Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 2:57 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Health officials in Eau Claire and La Crosse counties are recommending that everyone wear masks indoors in public areas, including people who have been fully vaccinated.

The recommendations come after Tuesday’s revised guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlined mask guidance for areas in which community spread of COVID-19 exceeded certain thresholds. The guidance on masks in indoor public places applies in parts of the U.S. with at least 50 new cases per 100,000 people in the last week.

On Friday, the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker website showed several counties in Wisconsin in the “substantial” category for COVID-19 community transmission. This includes Eau Claire County, as well as Burnett, Chippewa, Clark, Taylor, Washburn, and Wood counties in Wisconsin and Winona County in Minnesota. Additionally, counties with high transmission rates are included in the recommendations for indoor masks as well, and in western Wisconsin, this includes Buffalo and Pepin counties.

The Eau Claire City-County Health Department says the new mask guidance for Eau Claire County is that everyone over the age of two wear a mask in indoor public settings, even if they have been vaccinated. The guidance also recommends wearing masks for anyone who is in a K-12 school building. The Eau Claire City-County Health Department also advises residents to get vaccinated if they are eligible.

The map from the CDC's COVID Data Tracker displaying COVID-19 community transmission data for...
The map from the CDC's COVID Data Tracker displaying COVID-19 community transmission data for Wisconsin and other parts of the Midwest on July 30, 2021.(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

“Many people have gotten vaccinated to protect themselves, their families, and our community from more spread of this virus,” Lieske Giese, Eau Claire City-County Health Department Director, said. “We now need to add another layer of prevention back for everyone, and that is masks.”

In La Crosse County, the La Crosse County Health Department is encouraging its residents to wear masks indoors, even if they have been fully-vaccinated. Although La Crosse County hasn’t yet gone above the CDC’s mark for recommending mask wearing indoors, health officials note a rising number of confirmed cases likely caused by the delta variant of COVID-19. The La Crosse County Health Department says they are currently at 50 cases per 100,000 people as a seven-day average as of July 28, which is the mark the CDC has set for recommending indoor mask wearing.

“COVID-19 is still very much present in our community, and we are seeing a concerning increase in cases,” Audra Martine, Director of the La Crosse County Health Department, said. “This is why we are strongly recommending that anyone over the age of two wear a mask in public indoor spaces and at indoor private gatherings.”

Health officials in both counties say that even if the daily numbers dip below the 50-case-per-100,000-people mark, as long as the trajectory of cases continues to rise, they will continue to recommend the CDC’s guidance. The recommendations are not tied to any federal, state, or local mandates.

To find out where you can get tested for COVID-19, you can visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website. If you need information on receiving a vaccine, you can visit Vaccine.gov.

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