Local and tribal health departments in western Wisconsin issued a statement this week, stating that even with ongoing vaccine efforts against COVID-19, they urge the public to remain diligent in efforts of fighting the pandemic. The organizations are working together to inform, educate and protect communities from the illness. 

Twenty-one departments signed onto the joint statement.

“We are doing everything we can, but we need your help. You are the most important part of stopping this pandemic,” they said.

This part of the state is still seeing cases of COVID-19, including those from COVID-19 variants. Surrounding states, such as Minnesota, are experiencing high numbers of these cases. 

“This means our area will likely soon see higher numbers if actions are not taken, as this increase is already being experienced in border counties. This is also important because even though your local hospital may not have significant impacts from COVID-19, patient transfers may be impacted or delayed,” health officials stated.

Despite vaccination occurring, there is still a large population that hasn’t been vaccinated, including those under 16, who are not yet approved to receive the shots. 

None of the counties issuing the statement, including Rusk County, have over 40 percent of their eligible population fully vaccinated. Continuing to take precautionary actions can help protect children and family members from the illness.

Children can get sick and spread COVID-19 to others in schools, families and the community. There have been 90 children in the state that have developed multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). MIS-C is a rare, but serious condition where parts of the body can become inflamed. Children that have been diagnosed with MIS-C have been diagnosed with or been around someone with COVID-19.

Here is how you can help:

— Wear a mask. When worn properly, masks do work and save lives.

— Physically distance. Stay at least 6-feet from people who don’t live in your household.

— Wash your hands often.

— Avoid large gatherings. Large gatherings put people, everyone at the gathering, and everyone come into contact with after the gathering at risk.

— Get vaccinated. Find information on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines and how to get vaccinated by visiting your county or healthcare provider’s website.

“This has been an extremely difficult year for everyone, but we need to stay the course of prevention and mitigation,” the statement reads. “We know that there is a desire to cut back on the strategies wherever possible, but congregate settings are not the places to do it. The strategies that schools and others have put together work together. Simply put, handwashing, physical distancing, masking and vaccination are efforts that work best when practiced together.”

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