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Health departments in Trempealeau, Vernon counties feeling the impact of increased COVID cases

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WHITEHALL, Wis. (WXOW) - The Trempealeau County Health Department told residents on Friday that they are 'in crisis' regarding COVID-19.

In Vernon County, the health department there said the county is at a crossroads when it comes to the pandemic.

Both departments released letters to residents on Friday. One was from the Trempealeau County Health Department, while the one that came from the Vernon County Health Department was also signed by a number of individuals from the medical community, schools, and business owners.

In Trempealeau County, the letter states that they've seen 335 cases of COVID-19 between November 5-11. It also said a ninth person died from the virus on Thursday. 16 people are hospitalized, part of 556 active cases in the county.

Later in the letter, it said, "This number of deaths and hospitalizations is unacceptable. Medical facilities in the Western Region are overwhelmed
and reporting impacts on their capacity to care for those hospitalized, along with staffing issues as employees need to quarantine or become ill. Further, public health operations have changed due to this surge in cases and we are working under crisis standards of practice. This means we are unable to call cases within 24 hours of receiving their positive test result."

They also shared guidance for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. "With Thanksgiving two weeks away, we want to remind you that staying home is the best way to protect your community. If you choose to have in-person Thanksgiving activities with your family or friends, cancel all other social gatherings for two weeks before and after Thanksgiving."

The letter from Vernon County, where it said they've seen 47 percent of their tests come back positive this week, pinpoints where the increase is coming from. "The spread is being driven by people holding in-person family gatherings, weddings, and dinner parties with those they do not live with as well as by time spent indoors at bars and restaurants. There is a desperate need to slow the spread, flatten the curve, and protect our community and population." (Their emphasis)

Like Trempealeau County, Vernon County health department staff are struggling to contact people affected by the virus.

Both organizations said it would take the entire community to fight the spread of the virus. They also asked for the community's support in the fight.

"Remember, we can get through this together as a community when everyone does their part," ended the letter from Trempealeau County.

Read the letters in their entirety below. News app viewers can read them here.




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