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Chippewa County officials warn of COVID-19 scams, declining mental health

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Chippewa Falls (WQOW) - During a press conference on Wednesday, law enforcement officials asked people to be wary of scammers who are using the pandemic to con the public.

Chippewa Falls Police Chief Matthew Kelm said if anyone talks over the phone, through email or social media about in-home coronavirus testing, or claiming to have a cure for the virus, it is a sure fire way to identify a scam, because such things don't exist.

He added that senior citizens are often targeted for these scams, and encourages everyone to keep an eye on each other to check if anything is amiss.

"There's a lot of fear, especially in our elderly community, and it's easier for them to get scammed in times like this," said Kelm. "So, if you have an elderly family member, please check in with them on the phone, or Facebook, or however you do it to make sure they're not being victimized by a scam."

Kelm added that if you can't tell if an offer is a scam, contact police to get a clear answer before handing over any money.

The Chippewa County Public Health Department is also asking the public to keep in contact with each other while staying at home, to look out for one another's mental health.

Health department director Angela Weideman said depression is often related to isolation, so keeping up with people you regularly see can help.

"I talked to many people that are 80 and older that play cards or go to coffee that are not doing that anymore, and it can take a toll on people pretty quickly," Weideman said. "So, I would encourage even if those older folks are not reaching out to you, please reach out to them."

Weideman suggested making regular phone calls or video chatting with anyone who may need someone to talk to, so you can still practice social distancing.

Mary Pautsch

Mary came to News 18 in July 2019 from Sioux City, Iowa where she graduated from Morningside College with a BA in Spanish after attending Iowa State University for 3 years.

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