by CHRIS ROGERS
Coronavirus infections remained high, but stabilized somewhat this week in Winona County. After getting 91 cases in four days last Friday-Monday, the speed of new infections moderated slightly. There were 100 new cases this week and an average of 14 cases a day.
The virus picked up speed in Trempealeau County, however. There were 119 new cases this week — the highest weekly total there yet — compared to just 68 new cases last week. For Trempealeau County’s size, that is a very high level of transmission: an average of 57 cases per day per 100,000 residents. For comparison, Winona County currently averages 28 cases per day per 100,000 residents. La Crosse County is at 32. Buffalo County is at 41.
“Buffalo County Public Health urges that residents take precautions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to protect their families, friends, and neighbors,” Buffalo County health officials wrote in a recent press release after COVID numbers kept climbing. Buffalo County had 38 new cases this week and another COVID-19 death, its third.
Nearly half of all cases in the last month were from community transmission, meaning it was unclear exactly how the person got infected, Buffalo County officials noted. “It continues to be important to take precautions when you go into the community because you can spread the virus even when you are feeling well,” they wrote. County officials made a point to thank citizens for their sacrifices to stop the spread. “Every take-out order instead of dine-in, every local sporting event watched on TV, every senior who didn’t have a graduation ceremony, every couple that postponed their wedding — you have played a significant role in keeping Buffalo County safe during this pandemic … We need people like you to continue safe practices so we do not continue to see an increase in positive cases, deaths, and hospitalizations. Your efforts make a difference,” health officials stated.
The decisions local people make — to wear a mask, to practice social distancing, to avoid large crowds, to stay home when sick — will help decide how the virus progresses in our communities, Winona County Public Health Supervisor Melanie Tatge said. “It’s not just up to local public health and the medical professionals. We need the help of the community,” she stated. “Kudos to everyone who is,” she added. The collective effort of Minnesotans, Americans, and people all over the world to follow these precautions and take care of each other is beautiful, Tatge said.
In La Crosse County, virus transmission remained high and was up slightly, with 266 new cases this week compared to 232 last week. For months, La Crosse County wasn’t seeing many deaths despite having thousands of cases, but, sadly, that changed. La Crosse County reported 15 deaths as a result of COVID so far this month.
Winona County hasn’t reported any new deaths since September. The number of hospitalizations recently increased by two, including three more in intensive care, according to Winona County Public Health statistics.