County COVID death toll reaches 40 as vaccine distribution slows
One more Trempealeau County resident has died from COVID-19 as distribution of the vaccines slowed considerably last week.
The county’s 40th death caused by complications from COVID-19 came last Friday, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Various reports on social media have indicated it was a 44-year-old rural Whitehall man who passed away.
The latest death came at a time in which the number of new cases in the area has slowed. The DHS reported 17 new cases in Trempealeau County last week. Five of the cases were in the Trempealeau area, while Galesville and Ettrick both had three new cases. None of the other areas in the county had more than two. Last week was the third straight in which there were 20 cases or fewer reported in the county.
The distribution of COVID-19 vaccines slowed last week, down to 1,151 — the fewest since the week of Feb. 21. The decrease began two weeks ago when the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was paused by the DHS, after there were reports of blood clots caused by the vaccine.
When that vaccine was paused, the Trempealeau County Health Department and area healthcare providers canceled scheduled appointments to distribute that vaccine. On Friday, the Center of Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended resuming distribution of that vaccine.
On Monday, Mayo Clinic announced that it is working on a plan and process to resume distributing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine with appropriate education for patients about the warning and precaution regarding thrombosis with thrombocytopenia.
“The risk is very similar in number to other rare serious adverse effects with many other medications that are commonly taken by patients. We will work on educating our health care providers, patients and community about the risks to allow people to safely make informed decisions,” Dr. Abinash Virk, co-chair of Mayo Clinic COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation and Distribution Work Group, said.
The risk, according to a release sent by Mayo Clinic, for thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome is rare overall — an estimated 1 in 520,000 for women under 50 and 1 in 143,000 for women 18–49.
Gundersen Health System announced on Monday that it would resume administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The Trempealeau County Health Department advised it would wait for guidance from the DHS.
Anyone who receives the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and experience unexplained new severe symptoms after 72 hours and up to three weeks after vaccination, such as new severe headaches, leg pain, abdominal pain or shortness of breath, you should seek emergency care.
While the amount of vaccines distributed in the county slowed recently, 44.8 percent of county residents have received at least one dose of a vaccine — including 93.7 percent of residents who are 65 years old or older. The DHS also reported that 35 percent of county residents have completed the vaccine series, including 89 percent who are 65 or older. Those percentages are ahead of the statewide marks of 42.1 percent who received at least one vaccine and 31.5 percent who have completed the series.
The Trempealeau County Health Department will continue a series of vaccine informational sessions. Spanish versions of the sessions will be held at Arcadia High School this Thursday (4:30-5:30 p.m.) and next Thursday (6:30 to 7:30 p.m.). An English session will be held at the Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau High School South Gym on Friday from 5 to 6 p.m. Recordings of the sessions can be found on the WTCO website: https://co.trempealeau.wi.us/community/tcctv_media_center/index.php