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Portage Co. hosts first COVID-19 town hall

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PORTAGE COUNTY, Wis. (WAOW) -- We all have questions when it comes to COVID-19. Portage County officials and community leaders are working to answer some of those questions by hosting town halls.

The first town hall on Thursday included representatives from the health department, sheriff's department, schools and other institutions.

"Like many people we're looking for a way to navigate the health challenges, economic uncertainty and lack of connection to our community during this COVID-19 pandemic," said Data Scientist & Community Leader John Omernik.

Thursday's conversation focused on the local and state response to the virus. The state mask mandate was a hot topic.

Portage County Health Officer Gary Garske said it's too soon to tell if the mandate has had any impact on cases in the county.

When it comes to enforcing the order, the sheriff's department has asked the community not to call 911 to report violations. However they will respond if there are any disturbances or altercations that arise due to the mandate.

Meanwhile, the Portage County Health Department has set up a form for reporting mask concerns.

"We have launched a masking concern form on our website, which, again, is kind of giving us an indication of some of the concerns out in the community regarding the masking mandate," Garske said.

The county said they hope to host similar town halls in the future.

Sarah McGrew

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