New COVID-19 cases decline, vaccination plans take shape
The weekly number of new COVID-19 cases in Trempealeau County has declined for the third time in the last four weeks as health officials have begun announcing a plan for county residents to receive vaccinations.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, there were 74 new COVID-19 cases in Trempealeau County last week. With 99 new cases two weeks ago, it marked the first time since mid-October that there have been fewer than 100 new cases in consecutive weeks and it was the third time in the last four weeks that there have been fewer than 100 cases.
While the number of new cases lowered, the county had three more COVID-19 deaths last week, according to the DHS. The additional deaths put the county’s total at 33. Despite the declining number of new cases, the DHS reported county still has the fourth highest rate of cases per 100,000.
Of the new cases, DHS data shows that 22 were in the Osseo area, 11 were in Arcadia, nine in Eleva, seven in Independence, Galesville and Trempealeau, six in Strum, three in Whitehall and Blair and two in Ettrick.
Last Friday, the Trempealeau County Health Department announced it would be partnering with Gundersen Tri-County Hospital and Clinics in Whitehall to administer the COVID-19 vaccine following the government’s phased distribution guidelines.
“Gundersen Tri-County has been fortunate to be able to offer the COVID-19 vaccination to all staff with great response,” said Kate Cain, Director of Pharmacy at Gundersen Tri-County. “As front-line healthcare workers we have been given an opportunity to lead the community in acknowledging the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and are excited to provide this same opportunity to others as they are eligible.”
The health department held the first public vaccination clinic on Jan. 13 and 46 individuals received the first dose of the vaccine. The department continues to focus on individuals in Phase 1A, which includes healthcare personnel. As of Monday of this week, police, fire and correctional personnel could also be vaccinated.
Those who meet the phase 1A guidelines and want to receive a vaccine can call the health department at 715-538-3826. The department will collect information to share with Gundersen Tri-County to ensure all eligible individuals can be vaccinated. The vaccine is provided for free and the administration fee will be covered by insurance or available funding.
“The pandemic has been stressful for many people. I chose to become vaccinated because I want to protect my family, our healthcare system, and our community against the effects of COVID-19,” said Denise Doerr, Infection Prevention/Employee Health Nurse at Gundersen Tri-County. “I am looking forward to others being able to receive this opportunity to make a difference as well and return to normalcy where we can gather with our friends and family. Until then, I am still maintaining social distancing, wearing a face covering, and frequent hand washing. These are tools that we all have now to help slow the spread.”
A press release sent by the health department said they anticipate that the county will move to Phase 1B vaccine distribution in the coming weeks. When they move into Phase 1B, eligible groups will be contacted and the information will be made available through various resources, including the Trempealeau County Times.
The Health Department and Gundersen Tri-County remind everyone to keep their guard up. “The pandemic is not over and we must continue to protect our community. Wear a mask, physical distance, avoid gathering with others, wash hands frequently, and stay home when sick. We are nearing the end of the pandemic, but must remain diligent,” the press release said.
Phase 1A eligible individuals can also reach out to the following agencies to schedule a vaccine appointment:
• Marshfield Clinic Health System: Visit the website (https://www.marshfieldclinic.org/specialties/infectious-diseases/communi...) and complete the self-registration vaccine survey.
• Mayo Clinic Health System (Eau Claire, Barron, Rice Lake, Bloomer, Osseo and Menomonie): Visit https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/covid-19-nwwi-vaccination-phase.
• Individuals who work in La Crosse County are advised to ask their employer to fill out a Vaccine Referral Form.