La Crosse experts say people should take safety precautions against COVID-19

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – As Omicron spreads across the country, some people say there should be fewer precautions because they think everyone will catch the virus eventually. Health officials disagree and say it’s more important than ever that people avoid large gatherings.

COVID cases continue to rise, but people are going about their daily lives.

“It’s about learning to be safe by co-existing with the virus instead of locking ourselves in,” said Meghan Buechel, infection control specialist at Gundersen Health System.

Coexisting also means practicing safety precautions.

“These are all pieces of this puzzle that together can keep people safe, even in the midst of the surge we’re seeing right now due to COVID19,” Buechel said.

People on social media say they’re tired of hearing about COVID. Facebook posts say “COVID will never go away”. Gundersen Health experts say people should think about the impact of COVID.

“Again, I think we can’t lose sight of what COVID-19 is and what it has done to so many people in our communities and families,” Buechel said.

Buechel says people should continue to avoid large gatherings.

“Let’s hope and encourage people to keep this in their minds as they decipher if they would want to adopt this behavior for themselves and their family,” Buechel said.

Without precautions, county health educator Paula Silha warns the virus will continue to mutate.

“It will change to the point where he will completely escape the protection of vaccination or any of the available treatments,” Silha said.

While some people think Omicron is nothing more than the flu, for patients with underlying health conditions it can be deadly.

“What I’m dealing with as a health issue might not be obvious to someone else,” Silha said. “What others are dealing with they may not yet know or may not be obvious.”

Health officials are encouraging people to do most of the things they like, but still take necessary precautions like masking up, washing hands and getting vaccinated.

“Keep moving forward and keep acknowledging the why of safe practices,” Buechel said.

The La Crosse County Health Department says Omicron’s peak has yet to reach Wisconsin. They still expect an increase in cases at least next week.

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Susan W. Lloyd