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October 8: Weekly Driftless Area COVID-19 update
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DRIFTLESS - Over the past week COVID-19, diagnoses statewide increased from 117.588 on Monday, Sept. 28 to 134,359 on Monday, October 5. That is a statewide increase of 16,771 cases. The number of deaths increased from 1,283 to 1,381, an additional 98 deaths, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

The DHS’ Badger Bounce Back COVID-19 Case Indicators, which now classify counties as very high-, high-, moderate- or low-risk based on COVID activity over the previous two weeks, placed four counties in the new category of “very high risk” — Lafayette County and Richland County with a “growing” trend, Green County with a “neutral” trend, and Grant County with a “shrinking” trend. Iowa and Crawford counties were listed as “high risk” with a neutral trend.

According to an article in the Tuesday, Oct. 6 issue of Up North News, At least four county health directors in Wisconsin have resigned because of pressures against the COVID-19 public health measures they have been trying to put in place. Last week Shawano-Menominee County Health Officer Vicki Dantoin announced she is resigning after elected officials there rejected scientific evidence about the dangers of COVID-19 and efforts to contain it. 

Milwaukee’s Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik resigned in early September after saying she received racist comments and other pushback for advocating for efforts to curb COVID-19. 


In Sauk County, Health Officer Tim Lawther recently resigned from that job, citing the growing politicization of COVID-19 health recommendations as the reason he’s leaving the county Oct. 14. Lawther said he and other public health officials in his department had come under increasing scrutiny in recent months simply for recommending actions needed to try to contain the virus.

Crawford Countysaw 33 new cases, increasing to 204. There have been no deaths in the county.

According to DHS, public health investigations are taking place at three workplaces, one health care facility and three “other” facilities in Crawford County.

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.

North Crawford Schools:on Wednesday, Sept. 30, the North Crawford School District communicated the following to families:

“Earlier today, the district was informed that we have a second positive case of COVID-19 within North

“Through our contact tracing protocol, and in collaboration with the Crawford County Public Health department, we will be identifying and notifying all families whose students have likely had close contact with the individual who tested positive, as well as all staff members who had close contact.  Close contact is defined as being within six feet of an individual for 15 minutes or more within a 24 hour time period, even while wearing face coverings.

“Because this is our second positive case in the same area of the district within a week timeframe, under the advisement of Crawford County, we have decided that we will move our entire middle school to full virtual learning beginning Thursday, October 1st through Wednesday, October 14th.  6th and gth grade students will be able to return to the building for face-to-face instruction on Thursday, October 15th, with 7th graders returning to school for face to face instruction on Monday, October 19th.

“Additionally, to further mitigate the risk of contraction for our students and staff, we will be cancelling all middle school athletic programs and other middle school activities during this same time period. This includes middle school cross country, middle school volleyball, open gym, the use of The Shed fitness center, and any other district activities middle school students may be involved in. This does not change plans for high school activities.  High school athletics will continue as scheduled, and high school students can still take advantage of open gym opportunities  and the use of the fitness Shed.

“Middle school families should look for additional information coming out on collecting instructional materials, technology, and other necessary items from the school.  If your family has technology needs during this time period of full virtual, please contact Principal Toby Tripalin directly.  Families who wish to have meals provided to your child during this time period should fill out the online food service survey, or email Food Service Director Jennifer Kapinus directly at

“Our students' and staff safety remains our top priority.  We do not take these decisions lightly, but understand sometimes these decisions are necessary to mitigate the risk for everyone. Please feel free to reach out directly to me if you have any questions or concerns in regards to this information.”

Vernon Countysaw an increase of 60 cases in the last week, increasing to 293. The number of negative tests increased by 648 to 8,913, and there has now been one death.

According to DHS, public health investigations are taking place at three educational facilities and two workplaces that are not healthcare facilities.

On Tuesday, Oct. 6, the Vernon County Health Department issued a COVID-19 advisory, which warned their department is seeing a rise in the number of cases in the LaFarge and Ontario areas. The advisory warned the risk of community spread in these areas is high as they have not been able to identify all the contacts of infected individuals.

Richland Countysaw an increase of 95 cases, increasing to 229. The number of deaths in the county remained at four.

According to DHS, public health investigations are taking place at three workplaces and one health care facility in Richland County.

Monroe Countysaw an increase of 125 cases in the last week, going from 543 to 668. Negative tests increased by 422 to 9,904, and the number of deaths in the county has increased by one to three.

Juneau Countysaw an increase in cases of 74, growing to 465. The number of deaths in the county remains at three.

LaCrosse Countyhas continued to see an exponential increase in new cases in the last week of 281, going from 3,055 to 3,336. The number of deaths increased by two to six.

A sixth La Crosse County resident has died from COVID-19, the La Crosse County Health Department reported Monday. There was no additional information about the person released.

On Friday, Oct. 2, the LaCrosse County Health Department communicated the following:

“Long-term care facilities are experiencing COVID-19 spread in La Crosse County. A total of nine long-term care facilities have at least one positive case in staff or residents. In the past two weeks, La Crosse County Health Department has been notified of 34 cases among residents in four different long-term care facilities. Additionally, three of the five deaths that have occurred from COVID-19 in La Crosse County were in long term care residents, though not all from the same facility.

“Nationally, the spread of COVID-19 in long term care facilities has been a challenge since the very beginning of the pandemic. The virus has a high rate of mortality in older adults. As of today, 8.8 percent of long-term care residents in our county who became infected with COVID-19 have died.

“La Crosse County Health Department, Gundersen Health System and Mayo Clinic Health System are working collaboratively with long-term care facilities to control the spread of COVID-19. Long-term care facilities are diligent in their work to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19, and all facilities are regularly surveyed by the State to assure they are following strict standards of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and professional guidelines and directives. Long-term care facilities also provide regular communications and support to the families of their residents.

“The situation in long-term care facilities can change rapidly. In one outbreak in La Crosse County, staff tested positive at a routine screen but were asymptomatic. By the time they realized they were positive, some residents in the facility were also positive. This was despite staff following proper protective measures. The facility responded to the outbreak quickly, but the impact was significant. There is a clear risk of passing the virus to patients when staff contract COVID-19.

“In addition to the risks of death and illness, COVID-19 can quickly impact staffing capacity at long-term care facilities.

“As reported in yesterday’s update from the Coulee COVID-19 Collaborative, La Crosse County continues to have a high level of COVID-19 activity. The most significant risk of infections in long-term care residents is from the high level of virus activity in the community. Long-term care residents will continue to remain at high risk of mortality if people in our community do not follow the guidelines on avoiding large groups, masking, physical distancing and washing their hands.

“It will take all of us to protect those at greatest risk. The Coulee COVID-19 Collaborative implores the community to follow the guidance at in order to slow the spread.”

Grant Countyhas seen an increase of 213 cases in the last week, going from 1,029 to 1,242. The number of deaths in the county remains at 19.

According to DHS, a public health investigation of outbreaks is taking place at Edenbrook in Platteville, Orchard Manor in Lancaster, and Lancaster Health Services. There are also active investigations at four educational facilities, for long-term-care facilities, one health care facility, one workplace, and one “other” setting, according to DHS.

Lafayette Countyhas seen an increase of 61 cases in the last week, increasing to 362. There have been no deaths in the county.

Iowa Countyhas seen an increase of 46 cases in the last week, increasing to 229. There have been no deaths in the county.