Sunday, February 14, 2021

Tournament in La Crosse = Bad

The LaX Tribune selectively prints (or doesn't) letters to the editor on its website. This letter was in the Saturday, Feb. 13 Tribune but isn't showing up in the open online version. It was written in response to the Tribune editorial applauding the La Crosse Center decision to host hundreds of people from around the state for a basketball tournament. How much did that decision prioritize bringing in money for the La Crosse Center over the safety of La Crosse residents' health and lives?

Tournament is BAD Idea

Recent news stories and experts' warnings indicate that inviting hundreds of people from across the state to La Crosse at this time is a very bad idea.

We're in the middle of a deadly pandemic with a highly contagious, mutating virus. The virus thrives by community spread, allowing more opportunities for more, and possibly more contagious or deadly, variants to develop. The vaccine rollout is spotty and relatively slow, and current vaccines may not work well against new variants.

About half a million people in the United States have died from COVID-19. "Super spreader" events, from big motorcycle rallies to smaller gatherings of people from different households, can have grave health and economic outcomes. To stop the spread and mutation of the virus, people should not be traveling, mingling, shopping, eating in restaurants, and staying in hotels.

Even if the La Crosse Center is 100% safe,
HUNDREDS of visitors will be in contact with and potentially spread the virus to people and places where vulnerable local populations must work and buy essential goods. Nodes of potential transmission will increase. Many Wisconsin residents don't take mask-wearing or even the virus seriously. Even in La Crosse, some businesses don't follow mask rules and official enforcement is weak at best.

I'm surprised and disappointed that city political and health leaders have apparently signed off on this. Inviting people here knowing they'll probably help spread a deadly virus is the opposite of good leadership and public health policy, I think.

Cathy Van Maren

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