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January 14: Weekly Driftless Region COVID-19 update
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DRIFTLESS - Over the past week COVID-19, diagnoses statewide increased from 487,938 on Monday, Jan. 4 to 508,346 on Monday, Jan. 11. That is a statewide increase of 20,408 cases. The number of deaths increased from 4,884 to 5,162, an additional 278 deaths, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced today that Police and Fire personnel will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine beginning January 18, 2021 which begins the first step into phase 1B for Wisconsin. Wisconsin has been vaccinating the 1A population since December 14, 2020 which includes frontline health care workers and residents of long term care facilities including nursing homes and assisted living facilities. There are 1098 entities fully registered and ready to provide COVID-19 vaccines in Wisconsin. Local Health Departments (LHD) will be leading the coordination for the vaccination of Police and Fire personnel, as well as EMS and unaffiliated health care providers in their jurisdictions. Local Health Departments will work in partnership with local vaccinators, including health care systems and pharmacies. To ensure vaccine access statewide, DHS will also work alongside LHDs in coordinating with police and fire associations.

According to the Friday, Jan. 8 issue of Up North News, it will be almost impossible for Wisconsin to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19 via mass vaccinations this year unless the federal government greatly increases the number of doses it is giving the state, according to Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary-designee Julie Willems Van Dijk.

Wisconsin is currently receiving about 70,000 doses per week from the federal government, said Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary-designee of DHS. She estimated that number will need to be doubled or tripled to achieve herd immunity by the end of the year.

 “You see what the problem is here,” Willems Van Dijk said. “We don’t have enough supply to open the gates much wider and be able to meet the need.”

Among the 12 Midwestern states, Wisconsin had the third-lowest rate of vaccination as of Wednesday morning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But Wisconsin has also received the third-fewest doses as a proportion of population, according to the CDC. The state currently has a vaccination rate of 1.257 percent, and it has received about 267,000 doses, or about 4,600 per 100,000 residents.

Crawford Countysaw 33 new cases, increasing to 1,590. The number of deaths increased by one to 13.

At the Prairie du Chien Correctional Institution, there have been a total of 413 positive tests and 1,055 negative tests. Of the 413 positive cases, four are released positive cases, there are no active positive cases and 409 inactive positive cases. One inmate from the facility is listed as dead on the Department of Corrections website/

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.

Drive through testing will also be offered in January, February and March in both Prairie du Chien and Gays Mills. In Prairie du Chien, testing will take place at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, 201 S. Michigan Street, on Feb. 2, and March 2, from 12-4 p.m. In Gays Mills, testing will take place at Vosseteig Funeral Home, 325 Sunset Ridge Avenue, on Jan. 19 and Feb 16, from 12-4 p.m.

Vernon Countysaw an increase of 64 cases in the last week, increasing to 1,637. The number deaths increased by otwo, from 35 to 37.

Vernon County Health Department staff are currently working on identifying those that would like to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. They will be working with health care workers and long term care staff/residents during the phase 1A administration.  Once the state gives them approval to move to phase 1B, which may include essential workers, they will start contacting those interested in receiving vaccine. Please let them know by completing this form if you believe you would be a person qualified for phase 1B. More information to come on where and when you will be able to receive the vaccine. This is just the first step in identifying those that qualify. To register, go to:

Free COVID-19 community testing will be available every other Tuesday, 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 Jan. 26, Feb. 9, Feb. 23, and Mar. 9.

Richland Countysaw an increase of 54 cases, increasing to 1,171. 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 163 cases in the last week, going from 3,513 to 3,676. The number of deaths in the county remained at 27.

Juneau Countysaw an increase in cases of 119, growing to 2,473. Of the 2,573 cases, 543 of them are at the New Lisbon Correctional Facility, with no increase in cases there. In addition, a new outbreak started on Dec. 3 at the Sand Ridge Treatment Center in Mauston, where the number of cases remained at 50. The number of deaths in the county remained at 11.

LaCrosse Countyhas seen an uptick in the number of new cases in the last week of 468, going from 10,307 to 10,775. The number of deaths increased by six to 64.

Trends in week before last week’s cases in LaCrosse saw 105 cases currently known to have participated in a holiday gathering that either exposed them or where they exposed others. Additionally, there were four churches with multiple cases who attended in-person church services while infectious. Of note, these are early numbers that may grow as investigations are completed and more cases are analyzed. The overall percent positive has increased to 32.9 percent this week, meaning nearly one in three people tested for COVID-19 test positive. 

COVID-19 vaccination is progressing well in LaCrosse County. To date, about 3,000 Gundersen Health System staff have been vaccinated across the system, and more than 1,500 Mayo Clinic Health System-La Crosse staff have received the vaccine.

The Coulee COVID-19 Collaborative is working to identify community partners on the front line of medical care (examples: EMS, dentists, hospice staff, optometrists and many more) who are not affiliated with Gundersen or Mayo Clinic Health System and have not yet received the COVID-19 vaccine but would be eligible for the vaccine based on initial prioritization in Phase 1A. (See the additional information below.)

LaCrosse County Health Department is coordinating collection of vaccination requests, and Gundersen and Mayo Clinic Health System have committed to vaccinating eligible recipients. Great news for this week: About 100 local EMS professionals will be vaccinated this week. This pilot will help standardize the process for other community partners, based on the prioritization mentioned above.

The LaCrosse County Health Department is working with federal, state, and local partners to coordinate a process to offer COVID-19 vaccines to our community. We are now putting a call out to organizations with healthcare workers who do not work for Mayo Clinic Health System or Gundersen Health System.

The health department’s goal is to create a list of these employers and provide direct outreach when the COVID-19 vaccine is available for their employees.

Grant Countyhas seen an increase of 103 cases in the last week, going from 4,190 to 4,293. The number of deaths in the county remained at 77.

Lafayette Countyhas seen an increase of 25 cases in the last week, increasing to 1,278. The number of deaths in the county remained at five.

Iowa Countyhas seen an increase of 38 cases in the last week, increasing to 1,720. The number of deaths in the county remained at eight.