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December 24: Weekly Driftless Region COVID-19 update
COVID map_cases by municipality_121720
THIS MAP shows the num-ber of COVID-19 cases in municipalities in our re-gion as listed on the DHS website as of Monday, Dec. 21. The numbers may vary from those provided daily by the counties as the information on the DHS site can lag local information slightly.

DRIFTLESS - Over the past week COVID-19, diagnoses statewide increased from 438,895 on Monday, Dec. 14 to 458,612 on Monday, Dec. 21. That is a statewide increase of 19,717 cases. The number of deaths increased from 4,068 to 4,425, an additional 357 deaths, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

According to News Channel 8, Gundersen Health System and Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse received their first allocation of COVID-19 vaccines Monday afternoon in LaCrosse.

Staff at greatest risk of virus exposure will begin receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday to protect vulnerable patients, each other and community members, according to Gundersen. The group includes COVID unit staff; Emergency Room clinicians, nurses and technicians; long-term care staff; and hospital housekeeping staff.

Shipments of the second approved COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna began to ship out over the weekend. This vaccine will be more accessible to rural areas because it doesn’t require the same sub-zero storage conditions as the Pfizer vaccine.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, As of end of the day on Sunday, Dec. 20, the state’s vaccine data are as follows:

• 84,825 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech and 100,000 doses of Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine have been allocated to Wisconsin

• 10,358 total doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered and reported to the Wisconsin Immunization Registry, including 10,358 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech

Gundersen Health Systems reminds people that while the vaccine as begun to arrive, it remains vital that people take prevention steps seriously. As the first round of vaccinations begin, it is extremely important everyone continue to follow COVID-19 health and safety measures to limit the spread of the virus: wear a mask; maintain physical distancing and avoid large gatherings; wash your hands regularly; and stay home if you’re sick.

According to the Storm Lake Times, EU officials are discussing a joint response to a new, more infectious COVID-19 variant in the United Kingdom (UK), which has sparked travel bans by many countries. Canada and India joined European states in blocking flights from the UK while Europe-bound train services via the Channel Tunnel have been halted.

The new variant of COVID-19 originates in southeast England, according to the WHO, but it has already been detected in Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands and Australia. Australian health authorities said two cases of the variant had been found in returning travellers from the UK while they were in state-imposed quarantine in Sydney, while Italy's health ministry reported Sunday that a patient had been infected with the variant and placed under isolation in Rome.

According to Crawford County Public Health Director Cindy Riniker, there is no evidence that this variant is circulating in the county. Riniker also said that the nasal swab tests for COVID-19 will detect the new variant, but not the rapid antigen tests.

All viruses mutate over time and new variants are a common emergence, including for the novel coronavirus. A similar variant to the one identified in the UK has also been identified in South Africa, where scientists say it is spreading quickly along coastal areas of the country.

The new variant is said to be up to 70 percent more transmissible but there is no evidence that it is more deadly. There is also no proof to suggest that it reacts differently to vaccines.

Crawford Countysaw 43 new cases, increasing to 1,510. Added to that are 31 Antigen Testing positive, bringing the total probable cases in the county to 1,541.

At the Prairie du Chien Correctional Institution, there have been a total of 413 positive tests and 1,038 negative tests. Of the 413 positive cases, four are released positive cases, and there are no active positive cases and 409 inactive positive cases. 

In addition, the Crawford County Public Health Department will be holding COVID-19 testing events twice a week on Mondays, 11 a.m. – 12 noon and Fridays, 9-10 a.m. at the Crawford County Administration Building parking lot, 225 N. Beaumont Rd. Prairie du Chien, WI 53821. All tests must be scheduled in advance. Call the Crawford County Public Health Department at 608-326-0229 to schedule an appointment.  There is no cost to participate.

Vernon Countysaw an increase of 75 cases in the last week, increasing to 1,432. The number deaths increased by five, from 28 to 30.

Free COVID-19 community testing will be available every other Tuesday, starting on Dec. 29, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Old Highway Shop in Viroqua, at the intersection of Highways 56 and 14 (across from the Viroqua Food Co-op). Testing events will take place on Dec. 29, Jan. 12, Jan. 26, Feb. 9, Feb. 23, and Mar. 9.

Richland Countysaw an increase of 47 cases, increasing to 1,026. The number of deaths in the county remained at 13.

Upcoming COVID-19 testing events in the county will be held as follows:

Richland County Fairgrounds, 23630 County AA, Richland Center, Mondays 9 a.m.–1 p.m. and Thursdays 9 a.m.–4 p.m.

Monroe Countysaw an increase of 175 cases in the last week, going from 3,107 to 3,282. The number of deaths in the county increased by three to 26.

Juneau Countysaw an increase in cases of 92, growing to 2,285. Of the 2,193 cases, 537 of them are at the New Lisbon Correctional Facility, an increase of two cases there. In addition, a new outbreak started on Dec. 3 at the Sand Ridge Treatment Center in Mauston, where there are 49 cases. The number of deaths in the county increased by two to 10.

LaCrosse Countyhas continued to see an exponential increase in new cases in the last week of 430, going from 9,146 to 9,576. The number of deaths increased by nine to 52.

Grant Countyhas seen an increase of 124 cases in the last week, going from 3,877 to 4,001. The number of deaths in the county increased by four to 77.

Lafayette Countyhas seen an increase of 48 cases in the last week, increasing to 1,195. The number of deaths in the county increased by one to five.

Iowa Countyhas seen an increase of 106 cases in the last week, increasing to 1,575. The number of deaths in the county remained at five.