Weekly data update for Dunn County - holding steady at high transmission, Community Level back to Green/Low as hospitalizations have come back down. Things in the Chippewa Valley continue to move along, with lots of cases occurring. (How many friends do YOU know who've had COVID this past month? I'll bet it's quite a few. It's almost all BA.5, which is not surprising. Some people are still getting severely ill, but it is much less common than earlier in the pandemic. The big question is what will happen when school starts this week for K-12 and next week for our college campuses. Any time that groups of people who weren't associating with one another then come in contact, we see increased transmission of communicable diseases. COVID will not be any different. So, get ready. Expect increased transmission for at least the first few weeks. It will likely (I hope) then settle down due to the high levels of immunity, as the virus burns through those whose immunity hasn't been recently topped off. The alternative is that it sets off a bigger surge. I'm hoping that doesn't happen. We can see case increases happening in universities a week after they resumed classes - I've included graphs from both Cornell and Emory Universities, as they are some of the few who still collect and publish this information in this format. They're a few weeks ahead of us, so watching what happens there might be a useful indicator. Again, if now is not a good time for you to get sick (and back to school time rarely is for anyone), please consider upping your mitigation measures, especially in higher risk situations. Yesterday, I attended a crowded all-staff meeting with over 600 attendees in the same room for an hour. I wore a good mask. Also, expect teachers and students to get COVID and need to be absent/isolate in the first few weeks. We're in this weird situation where we allow for rampant transmission as long as hospital capacity is ok, and yet still require infected people to isolate for a minimum of 5 days regardless of medical capacity. It's disjointed. But it's what we have. If you're a school administrator, be prepared with subs. If you're a parent, be prepared with back-up child care if your child needs to stay home to isolate. Better to be prepared and not need it than be caught in a bind. For those of you who set workplace policy, it's probable that our case counts will push us into the Orange/High Community Level at some point in the next month, at which time universal masking is recommended, so keep an eye on that. The good news is that close contacts do not need to quarantine, but they ARE supposed to wear a mask for at least 5 days and test on day 5 or sooner if they develop symptoms. If you have symptoms and test negative, repeat the test in 48 hours to be sure, as false negatives do occur early in the illness with Omicron. Lastly, this Friday is the last day to order your free at-home COVID tests from covid.gov. Get them now if you haven't already!

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Alexandra Hall, MD

Alexandra Hall M.D. – Dr. Hall earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Science Education from New York University, taught high school in East Harlem, and then earned her M.D. from Mount Sinai School of Medicine. 

She then completed a residency in Family Practice and served as Chief Resident at the University of Vermont.  After practicing medicine for Dean Health System in Wisconsin and then at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, Dr. Hall moved to Menomonie, WI to work at UW Stout, where she currently teaches for the Biology department and serves as a physician at Student Health Services. 

Dr. Hall has a passion for educating people about health and science; she gives workshops regionally and nationally on various medical topics to both lay and professional audiences and has won several teaching awards for her work.


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