by CHRIS ROGERS
Local COVID cases shot up this week. Winona County set a new all-time record for the most cases reported in a single week, and Buffalo and Trempealeau counties saw weekly infections near all-time highs.
“It’s the highest number of cases we’ve ever seen reported, the highest seven-day case growth, and the highest positivity rate,” Winona County Public Health Supervisor Melanie Tatge.
In Winona County, new COVID infections soared from 228 cases last week to 657 this week, largely as a result of 384 new cases being reported in a single day on Tuesday. Tuesday case reports are always high because they typically include positive test results from the previous weekend, but this is extraordinary. In the past, anomalously high daily case reports have sometimes been the result of a backlog of old test results, but Tatge said that wasn’t the case here. The oldest test results included in Tuesday’s total date back to Jan. 3, she stated.
“That’s what we’re most likely seeing here, the presence of Omicron and also the holidays,” Tatge told the Post. She explained, “The Omicron variant is present within the state, and it’s safe to say it’s present in all regions and is the dominant strain … And what we know about Omicron is that it’s highly transmissible.” Between recent holiday gatherings and the presence of the more contagious variant, she added, “This is, unfortunately, right on track to where we expected to trend at this time.”
The CDC has reported that boosters are needed to provide strong protection against the virus and encouraged all eligible people to get vaccinations and boosters. Vaccines make a big difference, Tatge echoed, both making it less likely a person will get infected and greatly lowering the risk of severe illness. More information on vaccines and where to get them is available at www.vaccines.gov and page 3A.
COVID hospitalizations also rose sharply in Winona County this past week, with six new hospitalizations, according to CDC data, a 50 percent increase over last week. There was one new hospitalization in Trempealeau County and none in Buffalo County, according to the CDC.
No new deaths were reported in any of three three counties this week.