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E.C. Chamber of Commerce: Please Wear Your Face Masks

V1 Staff, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Patrons wear face masks at the Eau Claire Downtown Farmers Market.
Patrons wear face masks at the Eau Claire Downtown Farmers Market.

In a public letter to supporters Tuesday, the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce asked businesses and community members to follow federal, state, and local guidelines about wearing face masks and social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“As we all work to restore business activity in light of the COVID-19 health and economic crisis, the recent increase in cases threatens to short-circuit the recovery and send us backwards,” wrote David W. Minor, chamber president and CEO, and Scott Biederman, the chamber board chairman.

“As we all work to restore business activity in light of the COVID-19 health and economic crisis, the recent increase in cases threatens to short-circuit the recovery and send us backwards.” 

The letter noted that local public health officials predicted that the number of coronavirus cases would increase as restrictions on businesses and public gatherings were loosened – and that’s exactly what has happened. As of Sunday, 290 Eau Claire County residents had tested positive for COVID-19. That an 80% increase from the 161 positive cases just two weeks earlier, according to data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. (By comparison, the statewide figure rose just 29% during the same period.)

Statistics like this inspired the local business community leaders to ask local residents to voluntarily wear face masks.

“We know that masks and social distancing work to slow the spread of the virus,” the letter state. “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. We have every reason to expect a similar effort here would be successful, too.”

The Chamber of Commerce added that a comprehensive local campaign to promote mask usage would be launched in the near future.

Here’s the whole letter:

Dear Chamber Investor,

It is our job at the Eau Claire Area Chamber to do all that we can to help businesses prosper and keep the economic environment healthy in our community. As we all work to restore business activity in light of the COVID-19 health and economic crisis, the recent increase in cases threatens to short-circuit the recovery and send us backwards.

That’s why the Chamber is asking all businesses – as well as all community members – to follow the guidelines from the CDC, WEDC and local health officials regarding social distancing and the use of masks to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Doing so now can keep us all safer and can prevent the need for more stringent limitations on business activities in the future.

Following the implementation of the most recent order, local health care officials predicted coronavirus cases could increase as people returned to public activities. Unfortunately, we have seen a rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the past week. City and County leaders continue to monitor these increases and related hospitalization trends carefully.

We know that masks and social distancing work to slow the spread of the virus. 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. We have every reason to expect a similar effort here would be successful, too.

To help make that happen, we’ll be undertaking a comprehensive campaign, “We ask that you wear the mask,” to support this recommendation and educate the public on its importance to their health and to our economy. Watch for full details in the coming days.

Sincerely,

Scott Biederman, Chair of the Board

David W Minor, President/CEO

P.S. If you haven’t done so already, you can publicly show you are “Committed to Safety” by taking the pledge available through the Chippewa Valley Economic Recovery Task Force. You’ll receive a decal you can display to assure your employees and the public that you are following safety guidelines. https://bit.ly/3dTnReL

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