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July 13: Weekly Driftless COVID-19 round up
covid-19 graphic coronavirus

DRIFTLESS - Over the past week COVID-19 diagnoses statewide increased from 32,061 June 29 to 36,942 Monday, July 13. That is a statewide increase of 4,881 cases. The number of deaths increased from 796 to 820, an additional 24 deaths, according to the state Department of Health Services.

The reports for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday amounted to the four highest single-day reports for new coronavirus cases in Wisconsin. 

There were no new deaths reported Sunday or Monday, leaving the coronavirus death toll in Wisconsin at 820. 

There were another 26 hospitalizations reported Monday. There are 283 current hospital patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19, 85 of them in intensive care. Another 143 patients are awaiting COVID-19 test results. For the entire outbreak, 3,850 of the state’s 36,942 coronavirus cases have required hospital care.

Mona Lisa with mask

Mask requirements

According to an article in the Monday, July 13 issue of Up North News, wearing a face covering to prevent the spread of the coronavirus will be mandatory in Milwaukee under an ordinance approved Monday by the city council.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported the council also unanimously adopted a separate proposal to provide free masks to city residents.

Anyone age three and older would have to wear a face covering in buildings open to the public, as well as any outdoor public space when it’s not possible to stay six feet (1.8 meters) away from people who aren't in the same household. There are exceptions for medical conditions or religious reasons.

Ashland-Bayfield (WDIO-TV) – An emergency mask advisory starts at 8 a.m. on Friday, July 17 encouraging every age 5 and older in both counties to wear masks when inside a building with other people who are not part of one's living unit. Bayfield Health Officer Sara Wartman said it is not an order yet but "a strong advisory." The Friday start date ensures businesses have time to put up signage and people have time to get a mask if they don't have one.

Outagamie Co.-Appleton (WBAY-TV) – A mask ordinance for Outagamie County buildings began Monday morning, and an-other one starts Tuesday for buildings owned by the City of Appleton. This includes buildings like City Hall, Police and Fire Departments as well as park pavilions. Currently, if you violate the mask ordinance in Apple-ton, you won’t receive a ticket and it won’t be en-forced by police. However, health officials say it should be a chance for dialogue.

Portage Co. (WSAW-TV) – The Portage County Health and Human Services Board discussed the possi-bility of an ordinance that would make it mandatory for anyone over the age of three to wear a mask in pub-lic. 

 “I think that it was clear with the comments that most people were against the county looking at some type of ordinance to do this, but I do think it’s important that the county has the dis-cussion,” Portage County Health and Human Services Department director Ray Przybelski said.

Portage County Tavern League Vice President Jim Billings said his restaurant, The Final Score, has already lost 60% of its business from last year.

Wausau (WAOW-TV) – The City of Wausau's hu-man resources committee opted to table a decision on requiring city employees to wear masks. Several people spoke at Monday's meeting both for and against the requirement. In the end, committee members said they needed more details and information before making a decision.

Eau Claire (WQOW-TV) – The Eau Claire City Council will vote Tuesday on whether to support and encourage (but not require) the community to wear face masks when in public spac-es. Proposed in part by Ter-ry Weld, council president, the statement holds that the council believes that by wearing masks and practic-ing social distancing, anoth-er outbreak, and shutdown of business, can be stopped in its tracks.

Blood Drive

Testing and immunity

American Red Cross is offering a free antibody test to individuals who donate blood. Antibody tests will tell you if you have already had the virus. These are different than the tests being administered across the state in communities, which will tell you if you currently have the virus.

It is not a “safe bet” to rely on immunity to COVID-19 as a strategy for coping with the pandemic, one expert has warned, adding that herd immunity strategies were “probably never going to work.”

Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London, said that in towns and cities where there had been coronavirus infections, only 10-15 percent of the population was likely to be immune.

 “And immunity to this thing looks rather fragile — it looks like some people might have antibodies for a few months and then it might wane, so it’s not looking like a safe bet,” he said. “It’s a very deceitful virus and immunity to it is very confusing and rather short-lived.”

Upcoming blood drives in the area include:

• July 28: Church of Christ, 825 Nelson Pkwy, Viroqua, 12-5:30 p.m.

• July 28: United Method-ist Church, 625 Dousman St. Prairie du Chien, 2-5 p.m.

• July 30: Memorial Building, 860 Lincoln Ave., Fennimore, 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

• July 31: Prairie du Chien Library, 125 S. Wacouta Ave., Prairie du Chien, 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

• August 6: Wisconsin Secure Program Facility, 1101 Morrison Dr., Boscobel, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

• August 21: Gays Mills Community Building, 16381 State Highway 131, Gays Mills, 1-5 p.m.


Crawford Countysaw four new cases, increasing to 45. The number of negative tests increased by 263, and there have been no deaths in the county. 


Vernon Countysaw an increase of one case in the last week, increasing to 39. The number of negative tests increased by 609, and there have been no deaths.

RC testing event

Richland Countysaw an increase of two cases, increasing to 17. The number of negative tests increased by 188, and the number of deaths in the county remained at four.

Richland County will hold a free drive-through testing event at the Richland County Fairgrounds on Tuesday, July 21, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Monroe Countysaw an exponential increase of 44 cases in the last week, going from 95 to 139. Negative tests increased by 318, and the number of deaths in the county remains at one.

Juneau Countysaw an increase of 10 cases in the  last week, growing to 54. The number of deaths in the county remains at one.


LaCrosse Countyhas continued to see an exponential increase in new cases in the last week of 84, going from 509 to 593. There have been no deaths in the county.

The increasing number of cases of COVID-19 has prompted the La Crosse County Health Department to establish a dedicated page on the COVID-19 website to notify the public of locations where risk of exposure to the virus has occurred. 

It can be found at on the Outbreaks and Investigations page.

You can see current guidance on the Coulee COVID-19 Compass at

The La Crosse County Health Department (LCHD) also announced a streamlined process to notify businesses being added to the Outbreak and Investigation page at This page is a resource for the public to understand the risk for all known places within La Crosse County that the La Crosse County Health Department knows to have had lab-confirmed COVID-19 exposures in the last two weeks. 

The purpose of this process is to work proactively with businesses to prevent community and worksite exposure to COVID 19.

Businesses determined to have continued high risk of exposure will remain on the page until 14 days after the last known positive case was present. The Outbreak and Investigation page will be updated every weekday by 4 p.m.

Cassville testing_071520
WISCONSIN NATIONAL GUARD was on hand on Wednesday, July 15, in Cassville to assist the Grant County Health Department with community testing for COVID-19.

Grant Countyhas seen an exponential increase of 40 cases in the last week, going from 178 to 218. The number of deaths in the county remains at 13.

Darlington testing

Lafayette Countyhas seen an increase of three cases in the last week, going from 76 to 84. There have been no deaths in the county. 

Iowa Countyhas seen an increase of eight cases in the last week, increasing to 45. There have been no deaths in the county.

Asymptomatic and presymptomatic spread


COVID-19 info

There has been a lot of news coverage about COVID-19 and asympto-matic and pre-symptomatic spread.

Someone who is asymp-tomatic has the infection but no symptoms and will not develop them later.

Someone who is pre-symptomatic has the infec-tion but don't have any symptoms yet.

Both groups can spread the infection.

COVID-19 spreads easily and we believe that's be-cause it's spread by those who don't know they're in-fected. We suspect that in-dividuals who are pre-symptomatic are infectious for two to three days before having symptoms.

How many COVID- 19 cases develop symptoms?

One of the questions I get most frequently is how many people develop symp-toms and how many people remain asymptomatic. We believe that the number of asymptomatic infections ranges from 15 to 40 per-cent of total infections. COVID-19 causes a wide range of symptoms. Some have mild symptoms like a sore throat or a runny nose that can be confused for allergies or a cold. Others grow more ill and develop shortness of breath, pneu-monia or require hospitali-zation. We don't know why some people never get sick, have only mild symptoms, or require hospitalization.

It can be challenging to keep up with constantly changing information. We encourage you to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organiza-tion (WHO). The recom-mendations are based on current science and updated regularly. For COVID-19 guidance at a local level, turn to state and local health departments.

How can you prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Some of the easiest and most effective ways that we can limit the spread of COVID-19 is to practice physical distancing, wear a face-covering in public and wash hands often. It is im-possible to know if you are COVID-free, asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic in the absence of a test. I encour-age everyone to assume they have COVID-19 when in public and when interacting with others. By practicing these proven public health practices, we can help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities and protect everyone.

If you are feeling sick, we ask that you please CALL before you come in. Start by calling your primary care provider. For after-hours questions and care, please call our Telephone Nurse Advisors at 608-775-4454 or 800-858-1050

Megan Meller  is an Infection Control, Infection Preventionist with Gundersen Health Systems