By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
November 19: Weekly Driftless Area COVID-19 update
VQA 111220 COVID testing
THERE WAS A STEADY STREAM of people lining up for the National Guard COVID-19 testing event held last Thursday in Viroqua. After warnings about the impact the surge in cases locally is having on healthcare providers issued jointly by Gundersen and Mayo, it seems more people are taking advantage of testing opportunities.

DRIFTLESS - Over the past week COVID-19, diagnoses statewide increased from 271,770 on Monday, Nov. 9 to 316,758 on Monday, Nov. 16. That is a statewide increase of 44,988 cases. The number of deaths increased from 2,329 to 2,649, an additional 320 deaths, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Iowans will be required to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces when they cannot socially distance starting on Tuesday, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced on Monday.

The mask requirement was among several new COVID-19 mitigation strategies that Reynolds announced during a live address to Iowans.

"I know it's been a long eight months, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, and I'm hopeful, as we all are, that a vaccine will be here soon," Reynolds said. "But until then, it's important to step up and slow the spread."

Reynolds announced the following measures:

Requiring the wearing of masks when people are in an indoor public space and cannot socially distance for 15 minutes or more.

Limiting indoor social, community, business and leisure gatherings to 15 people, and outdoor gatherings to 30 people

Canceling organized youth and adult sporting events, with the exception of high school, collegiate and professional sports.

Requiring bars, bowling alleys, arcades, pool halls, bingo halls and indoor playgrounds to close at 10 p.m. Those venues also cannot hold private gatherings with more than 15 people. Staff who have direct contact with customers must wear masks, and customers must wear masks when they are not seated at their table.

Reynolds' announcement comes as COVID-19 cases have been skyrocketing locally and around the state.

Crawford Countysaw 163 new cases, increasing to 723. The number of deaths in the county increased from three to four.

According to DHS, public health investigations are taking place at Prairie Maison in Prairie du Chien, Soldiers Grove Health Services, seven workplaces, three educational facilities, two long-term-care facilities, one group housing facility, one health care facility, and 10 “other” facilities in Crawford County.

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

Hoffman Hall, 1600 S. Wacouta Ave., Prairie du Chien, Dec. 1, 12-6 p.m.

In addition, the Crawford County Public Health Department will be holding COVID-19 testing events twice a week beginning on September 14, 2020. Testing will be 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 158 cases in the last week, increasing to 864. The number deaths increased from four to seven.

According to DHS, public health investigations are taking place at Vernon Manor Nursing Home in Viroqua, three workplaces, four educational facilities, two long-term-care facilities, and one health care facility, and one “other” facilities in Vernon County.

In a letter to towns of Vernon County, a plea went out from nearly 50, including small businesses owners, police and fire chiefs, sheriffs, health and school officials and others. The letter asked them to help take precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19.

In the letter posted on social media signed by 47 affiliated with everything Vernon County, they are asking towns to “put in place an expectation of its citizens to step up and protect each other. There is a desperate need to slow the spread, flatten the curve and protect our community and population.”

Vernon County’s positivity rate for COVID-19 was 47 percent this past week, according to the letter. The county has averaged 19.9 cases a day and suffered two deaths over that span.

 “We are asking that the towns ask all of the businesses to wear masks to protect their businesses from closing due to illness of their employees and to protect their customers,” the letter states. “For our community during this pandemic, we are at a crossroads. Having been lucky to avoid seeing these high case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths, we have been very fortunate.

 “But, it is here and it is not holding back. It is a privilege to serve this community, but it will take more than just medical professionals to fight this fight, it will take all of our community. We are asking for your support in this effort.”

The letter is signed:

Respectfully submitted by the following,

Amy Kleiber, RN BAN – Health Officer/Director Vernon County Health Department

Justin Running – Vernon County Board Chair

Brandon Larson – Vernon County Emergency Management Director

Dan Kanis and Jacob Kanis – Owners Nelson Agri Center, Viroqua

Chad Buros – Chief Viroqua Fire Department

Justin Panske – Funeral Director Vossetieg Funeral Homes

Karen Mischel – Mayor City of Viroqua

Jeff Liska – Chief Viola Fire Department, Viola Utilities Department

David Hartberg – CEO Vernon Memorial Healthcare

Dr Jeff Lawrence – Chief of Staff Vernon Memorial Healthcare

Dr Joel Charles – COVID Committee Chair Vernon Memorial Hospital

Dr Tony Macasaet – Emergency Medicine Department Chair Vernon Memorial Hospital

Rick Niedfeldt – Chief of Police Viroqua Police Department

Phil Stittleburg – Chief LaFarge Fire Department

Trina Erickson – Director Mcintosh Memorial Library

Orlan Bakkum – Chairman Township of Coon

Russ Cornford – Chief Coon Creek Fire and First Responders

David Hobbs – Chief Wheatland Fire and First Responders

John Spears – Sheriff Vernon County

Keith Ashley Wright – Chairman Township of Stark

Karl Henrichsen – President Village of Coon Valley

Opal Hostert – Nurse Desoto Area Schools

Joe Pfaff – Chief Stoddard Fire and First Responders

Mitch Mabb – Chief Readstown Fire Department

Adam Sonntag – Administrator City of Hillsboro

Greg Kubarski – Mayor City of Hillsboro

Cheryl Purvis – President Village of LaFarge

Kent Hatlestad – Administrator Village of Stoddard

Brandon Munson – Superintendent North Crawford Schools

Mike Berg – Principal Coon Valley Elementary School

Luke and Ruthie Zahm – Owners Driftless Café

Michele and Lavon Felton – Owners Sleepy Hollow Auto

Spencer Lee – Chief Westby Christiana Fire Department

Jennifer Burchell – Chairman Town of Hillsboro

Westby First Responders

Youth Initiative High School

La Farge Ambulance

Village of Chaseburg

Readstown Ambulance

Hillsboro Ambulance

Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School

Kickapoo Area Schools

Village of Desoto

City of Westby

Gundersen St. Joseph Hillsboro, Hospital and Clinic

Western Technical College Viroqua

Richland Countysaw an increase of 124 cases, increasing to 726. The number of deaths in the county remained at 11.

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 424 cases in the last week, going from 1,636 to 2,060. The number of deaths in the county remained at 12.

Juneau Countysaw an increase in cases of 246, growing to 1,632. The number of deaths in the county increased to six. Of the 1,632 cases, 515 of them are at the New Lisbon Correctional Facility.

LaCrosse Countyhas continued to see an exponential increase in new cases in the last week of 914, going from 5,535 to 6,449. The number of deaths increased by five to 32.

On Wednesday, Nov. 11, the LaCrosse County Health Department posted the following: Statewide Wisconsin is seeing a worse surge than New York City's in April despite having a fraction of the population, and cases are growing quickly. Hospitals are overwhelmed throughout the state. Locally one in three people tested for COVID-19 is testing positive. The number of people dying of COVID-19 is unacceptable. Our hearts go out to the family and friends who have lost loved ones. 

It is critical that we cancel playdates, dinners with friends, and parties. Now is not the time for team, club or youth sports or extracurriculars. Get outside for fresh air but stay away from anyone who does not live with you. Staying home is the most effective way to slow the spread. 

Grant Countyhas seen an increase of 586 cases in the last week, going from 2,420 to 3,996. The number of deaths in the county increased by seven to 54.

Lafayette Countyhas seen an increase of 183 cases in the last week, increasing to 929. The number of deaths in the county remained at two.

Iowa Countyhas seen an increase of 205 cases in the last week, increasing to 963. The number of deaths in the county increased by one to four.