CRAWFORD COUNTY - As the number of recorded COVID-19 cases slows locally at least for the moment and vaccinations against the virus are increasing, it might be the right time to look at the numbers and try to sort out what happened.
As of Tuesday, March 9 there were 1,695 confirmed cases in Crawford County since the first reported case last spring, according to Wisconsin Department of Health Services. With a population of about 16,235, that means about 10.5 percent of the county has had a confirmed case of the virus. It’s important to realize that a large, but unknown, number of cases are never confirmed or reported.
Additionally, 17 people in Crawford County have died, while infected with COVID. That’s one percent of the number of confirmed cases and .1 percent of the county’s population.
It must be noted that both of those figures include the inmates housed Prairie du Chien Correctional Institution, a Wisconsin Department of Corrections prison. It must also be noted that an outbreak at the prison infected more than 400 prisoners and their cases are included in the 1,695 that were reported. One prisoner died, while infected and that death is included in the 17 COVID-related deaths in the county that were reported by the Crawford County Health Department.
Nine of the 17 who died, including the inmate, were listed as residents of the City of Prairie du Chien. In all, there 899 confirmed positive tests for COVID in Prairie du Chien.
So, the nine deaths represent one percent of the reported cases in the city.
The other eight individuals, who had COVID-related deaths, lived in the 10 villages and 11 townships in the county. At this point, local and state officials decline to identify their municipality of residence citing privacy rules in the Wisconsin Statutes.
So, what else do we know about the 17 COVID-related deaths?
Crawford County Coroner Joe Morovits provided some insight.
The youngest of the COVID-related deaths was an individual wo was 52 years old.
Here’s the break down by age:
50-59 –– 2
60-69 –– 2
70-79 –– 6
80-89 –– 4
90 + –– 3
Of the 17 deaths, 11 were males and six were females.
The first died in early October and the last reported death at this point was in early February–that’s a four-month stretch.
COVID-related deaths in Crawford County recorded by the month looked like this:
October –– 1
November – 8
December – 4
January –– 3
February –– 1
Although all of the 17 were Crawford County residents at the time of their death, only seven died in the county. Eight died in LaCrosse County and two died in Dane County.
While most of the deaths occurred in a hospital, at least two did not, according Crawford County Director of Public Health Cindy Riniker.
While the cause of death was listed as COVID on the death certificates, there were often other causes of death in addition to COVID listed. They included:
Stroke –– 1
Pneumonia –– 5
COPD –– 1
Sepsis –– 2
So how serious were the county’s pandemic deaths in the total scheme of things? Well, the impact was probably worse than you might think.
You see there were 209 deaths in Crawford County in 2020 including 13 of the 17 COVID-related deaths. Those 13 deaths occurred in just three months-actually 12 of the deaths occurred in just two months, November and December. So those 13 deaths represent six percent of all deaths for 2020.
By contrast, Crawford County experienced just three traffic fatalities in 2020. So, in two or three months there were four times as many COVID-related deaths as there were traffic fatalities for the entire year.
However, it’s the direct monthly comparison that drives home the enormity of the COVID-related deaths in the county.
For instance, there were 23 total deaths in Crawford County in November, 2020 and eight of them were COVID-related. That’s more than a third of all deaths that month. In December, 2020, there were 26 deaths and four were COVID-related, that’s about 15 percent. In January 2021, there were 27 deaths and three COVID-related deaths-11 percent.
Even the months of October and February with just one COVID-related death each still represented about 10 percent of the 11 and 10 total deaths reported respectively in those months.
COVID-related deaths accounting for 10 to 35 percent of the total deaths in the county during the five months they occurred shows the significance of the disease. The source of the monthly totals for all deaths was the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, which cautioned the numbers were provisional at this point for 2020 and 2021. However, the COVID-related death numbers were verified by the county health department.
Crawford County Public Health reported more than 60 hospitalizations for COVID treatment, but believe there were probably more due to the inconsistency of the hospitalizations being reported and identified.Where the COVID-pandemic goes from here is open to speculation, but at least we have an idea of what occurred in late 2020 and early 2021 in Crawford County, Wisconsin.