Shopping with mask

Lauren Roemhild of Eau Claire shops for clothes on May 14 at Once Upon A Child at 4058 Commonwealth Ave. The Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce released a statement Tuesday urging people to wear face masks in public to reduce the spread of coronavirus and prevent a “short-circuit” in the recovery of the local economy.

The Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce is urging area residents to wear face masks and take other measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

A recent increase in local COVID-19 cases threatens to short-circuit the recovery for the business sector, the organization stated Tuesday, and following measures recommended by public health officials can help avert that.

“Doing so now can keep us all safer and can prevent the need for more stringent limitations on business activities in the future,” stated the letter signed by chamber President and CEO David Minor and board Chairman Scott Biederman.

The chamber views encouraging the use of face masks so critically to help businesses that the group announced it will launch a public education campaign entitled “We ask that you wear the mask.”

Along with wearing face masks inside of businesses, the group’s leadership noted the protective practice of social distancing — maintaining six feet of distance between people who aren’t from the same household.

“We know that masks and social distancing work to slow the spread of the virus,” the chamber’s statement said. “The track record of other cities demonstrates that coronavirus spread can be mitigated — and businesses can remain open — where masks and social distancing have been widely accepted.”

The Eau Claire City-County Health Department reported Tuesday that 10 more county residents have tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the cumulative total to 300. The amount of coronavirus cases increased at the end of June in the county with more than 10 new positive test results on multiple days.

Local health officials remarked earlier this week that a growing percentage of people who do go in for voluntary testing are getting a positive result back. Since the beginning of this month, between 15% and 25% of those tested on a given day have been confirmed to have COVID-19. That compares to just under 10% in late June and the county’s goal of 5% or lower.

Lieske Giese, health director, said the increasing positivity rate is the result of more disease in the community, not an increase in testing. She noted Monday that in recent days fewer people had gone in for testing than the numbers they saw a week ago.

During her usual Monday morning briefing on the community’s COVID-19 cases, Giese advocated for people to wear masks.

“We’re having a lot of community conversation about wearing a mask. It is not a political statement to wear a mask,” she said. “It’s about protecting one another, about me protecting you and you protecting me when we’re out in public spaces.”

The local chamber noted that the same advice has been given by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

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