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Nearly 100 residents protest new potential health ordinance

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Eau Claire County (WQOW) - The Eau Claire City-County Board of Health met on Monday to provide input on a proposed ordinance regarding general local health orders that have been put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both Eau Claire County Board and the Eau Claire City Council will consider an ordinance outlining the process and situations in which local health orders can be made. The proposed ordinance is already facing pushback from the community although it is not up for adoption until next month.

Following input from the board of health on Monday, the next steps would be for there to be a first reading by both the city council and county board followed by a public input session at the October 12 Eau Claire City Council meeting.

The ordinances could then be up for adoption by the city council and county board on October 13 and 22 respectively.

Those proposed ordinances drew a crowd of protesters to the Eau Claire Government Center on Monday afternoon.

Nearly 100 people gathered to express their concerns about the ordinances saying they worry the changes, if put into place, would give an overwhelming authority to health officials to police COVID-19 health practices.

They held signs and expressed that they believe health practices and restrictions should be a personal choice.

"We want to have the right-back to assemble in front of these meeting boards and use our voice and give public in-person comments. These same agendas are showing up all over our state and in other counties, the people are allowed to still have the right to show up and give in-person comments," said Kayla Rick.

According to the health board, the proposed ordinance would not give increased authority to Eau Claire City-County Health Director Lieske Giese.

City-County health officials stressed the ordinance is not the same thing as a local health order, and said the ordinance simply outlines the process for issuing an order when it becomes necessary, such as during a pandemic.

They also addressed concerns regarding language stating the health officer can take whatever steps are deemed 'reasonable and necessary', stating that there are a number of safeguards and reporting requirements that would prevent abuse of power. The board also said the ordinance would not require a vaccination or force people out of their homes.

Giese added this particular ordinance does not have anything to do with COVID-19, however, the document below makes reference to COVID-19 multiple times.

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