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COVID-19 in Wisconsin: Half of older adults 65+ get vaccine

The surge in deaths, cases and testing was short-lived, as all three metrics fell Friday
WISCONSIN state map with CORONAVIRUS lettering, on texture, finished graphic
WISCONSIN state map with CORONAVIRUS lettering, on texture, finished graphic(Associated Press)
Published: Feb. 26, 2021 at 2:15 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 26, 2021 at 4:02 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) – Wisconsin’s surge in deaths, cases and testing on Thursday appears short-lived, as all three metrics fell sharply again on Friday back to levels more typical of the psat two weeks.

The state reported a single-digit increase in deaths, with 5 more bringing the state’s COVID-19 death toll to 6,399. That’s one-tenth of the number of deaths the state added to the toll on Thursday. Friday’s smaller number helped bring the 7-day average down to 19 deaths per day, close to Wednesday’s 18 deaths.

Deaths were added in Dane, Langlade, Milwaukee (2), Sauk and Washington counties. The death count was revised in Kenosha County.

The state received 5,498 results for people tested, or testing positive, for the coronavirus for the first time and found 656 more people infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Compare those to 13,177 tests and 840 positive results reported Thursday. Those 5,498 positive tests were 11.93% of the test results, incredibly on target with the 7-day average positivity rate of 11.92% by that measure. However, the state now measures the positivity rate by the results of all testing -- including people tested multiple times -- and by that measure, the 7-day average positivity rate was down to 2.3%, continuing a steady decline over two months. The state is averaging 616 new coronavirus cases each day over the last 7 days, close to Wednesday’s average of 617 cases before Thursday’s outlier test results.

New cases were identified in 60 counties. Fifteen of them reported only 1 or 2 cases. Updated county case and death totals will appear later in this article.

Wisconsin saw an increase of 58,793 “shots in the arm” since Thursday’s report, a new daily record, and passed a milestone for vaccinations: More than half of adults 65 and older (51.3%) have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. So far, 18.7% of that population has completed their vaccine regimen. It’s been a little over a month since vaccination efforts for that age population started in earnest.

The state says almost 15% (14.9%) of all eligible residents have received at least one shot -- that’s 868,800 people. More than half of them have received their second and final dose -- or 443,026 people. These numbers are preliminary for a few days as vaccinators’ reports continue to come in.

GroupReceived at least 1 dose
(% of their group)
Received both doses
(% of their group)
16-170.6%0.4%
18-245.3%3.6%
25-349.3%7.1%
35-4411.1%8.4%
45-5410.9%8.0%
55-6411.2%7.6%
65+51.3%18.7%
American Indian10.5%4.7%
Asian6.4%4.0%
Black4.5%2.0%
White14.1%7.1%

Health officials are encouraging people in minority groups to get vaccinated because of the disparity in the vaccination numbers and because minority groups are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 virus. For more information about racial and ethnic disparities in the pandemic, CLICK HERE.

Earlier this week, state health officials said Wisconsin is on target to expand eligibility for the vaccine next Monday, March 1. The emphasis in that expanded group is educators and child care workers. However, the first priority is still vaccinating people 65 and older.

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Deputy Health Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said Thursday, “We couldn’t take our whole vaccine supply and give it to educators, because we need to keep vaccine available for people who are 65 plus. So the plan is that we continue in that 70- to 80,000 dose level going out to our vaccinators to continue to vaccinate people 65 plus, and as they finish those groups move on to other eligible groups.”

  • Education and child care: Includes preschool to grade 12, higher education, community learning programs, and Boys & Girls Club and YMCA staff members
  • People enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs, such as Family Care and IRIS
  • Some public-facing frontline workers, including public transit and people responsible for utility and communications infrastructure
  • 911 operators
  • Workers in the food supply chain: Farms; production plants; food retail, which includes supermarkets and convenience stores selling groceries; and hunger relief distribution
  • Congregate living: Residents and staff of domestic abuse and homeless shelters; housing for the elderly or people with disabilities; prisons and jails; mental health facilities; some employer-based housing
  • Non-frontline essential health care: Emergency management; cyber security; critical support roles such as cleaning, HVAC and refrigeration; critical supply chain, such as production and distribution of vaccine

This is not an all-inclusive list, and vaccinations will be dependent on local vaccine supply. Even with the increased allocation coming from the federal government next week, the DHS says 700,000 people fall into these groups and it will take about two months to vaccinate everyone who qualifies.

The Oconto County Health Department, for one, says it won’t vaccinate the expanded group until the week of March 15 or when 50% of older adults in the county are vaccinated, whichever comes later, because it doesn’t have an adequate supply of vaccines.

Action 2 News continues updating its guide to vaccination clinics and health agencies distributing the COVID-19 vaccine. CLICK HERE for locations and phone numbers and websites to register.

HOSPITALIZATIONS

The DHS says 59 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 in the past 24-hour period, similar to Thursday’s 61 hospitalizations and still above average, even though the 7-day average fell from 57 to 54 hospitalizations. More than 26,000 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment at some point, or 4.6% of all cases.

Taking discharges and deaths into account, there were 27 fewer COVID-19 patients in hospitals Friday than the day before. The Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) reported 304 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, with 89 of them in intensive care units. That’s the lowest number in the hospital since September 10. This marks the third time this month that ICU’s had fewer than 90 COVID-19 patients, which didn’t happen in any month since our hospitalization record-keeping began on August 1.

Locally, there are 13 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the Fox Valley region, including 3 in ICU. That’s the same in ICU as Thursday but 7 fewer patients overall.

The Northeast region’s 10 hospitals were treating 39 patients, the same number as Thursday, with 13 in ICU, which is one more patient than 24 hours earlier.

HOSPITAL READINESS

In terms of hospital readiness, the WHA reported 318 ICU beds (21.7%) and 2,246 of all medical beds (20.1%) -- ICU, intermediate care, medical surgical and negative flow isolation beds -- are open in the state’s 134 hospitals.

The Fox Valley’s 13 hospitals had 9 open ICU beds (8.7%) among them and 141 of all medical beds (16.5%) open for the eight counties they serve.

In the Northeast region, the hospitals have 48 ICU beds (23.2%) and 247 of all medical beds (25.8%) available.

These are beds for all patients, not just COVID-19, and because a bed is open or available doesn’t mean a hospital can put a patient in it if there isn’t enough staffing, including doctors, nurses and food services.

Since February 5, 2020

  • 54.7% of the state’s population was tested for the coronavirus at least once (3,183,104 people)
  • 9.4% of the population tested positive for infection and recovered (548,040)
  • 0.14% of the population was diagnosed in the past 30 days (8,209)
  • 0.11% of the population died from COVID-19 (6,399 people), behind only heart disease (0.21%) and cancer (0.20%) as a leading cause of death in the state

FRIDAY’S COUNTY CASE AND DEATH TOTALS (Counties with new cases or deaths are indicated in bold) *

Wisconsin

  • Adams – 1,577 cases (11 deaths)
  • Ashland – 1,175 cases (+2) (16 deaths)
  • Barron – 5,336 cases (+9) (76 deaths)
  • Bayfield - 1,064 cases (+1) (19 deaths)
  • Brown – 30,181 cases (+17) (222 deaths)
  • Buffalo – 1,316 cases (+1) (7 deaths)
  • Burnett – 1,197 cases (+4) (23 deaths)
  • Calumet – 5,461 cases (+8) (43 deaths)
  • Chippewa – 7,029 cases (+8) (92 deaths)
  • Clark – 3,154 cases (57 deaths)
  • Columbia – 5,018 cases (+11) (51 deaths)
  • Crawford – 1,669 cases (17 deaths)
  • Dane – 40,265 (+74) (273 deaths) (+1)
  • Dodge – 11,397 cases (+8) (155 deaths)
  • Door – 2,414 cases (+3) (20 deaths)
  • Douglas – 3,670 cases (+3) (26 deaths)
  • Dunn – 4,253 cases (+3) (28 deaths)
  • Eau Claire – 10,987 cases (+10) (104 deaths)
  • Florence - 435 cases (12 deaths)
  • Fond du Lac – 11,958 cases (+19) (93 deaths)
  • Forest - 924 cases (23 deaths)
  • Grant – 4,636 cases (+6) (80 deaths)
  • Green – 3,121 cases (+11) (16 deaths)
  • Green Lake - 1,524 cases (18 deaths)
  • Iowa - 1,852 cases (9 deaths)
  • Iron - 539 cases (+2) (20 deaths)
  • Jackson - 2,574 cases (23 deaths) (cases revised -4 by state)
  • Jefferson – 7,860 cases (+6) (111 deaths)
  • Juneau - 2,981 cases (+2) (19 deaths)
  • Kenosha – 14,798 cases (+11) (299 deaths) (deaths revised -1 by state)
  • Kewaunee – 2,413 cases (27 deaths)
  • La Crosse – 12,192 cases (+22) (78 deaths)
  • Lafayette - 1,458 cases (+2) (7 deaths)
  • Langlade - 1,934 cases (+2) (32 deaths) (+1)
  • Lincoln – 2,902 cases (+2) (58 deaths)
  • Manitowoc – 7,237 cases (+11) (63 deaths)
  • Marathon – 13,652 cases (+17) (176 deaths)
  • Marinette - 3,979 cases (+2) (62 deaths)
  • Marquette – 1,303 cases (+3) (21 deaths)
  • Menominee - 795 cases (11 deaths)
  • Milwaukee – 98,073 (+97) (1,231 deaths) (+2)
  • Monroe – 4,307 cases (+4) (31 deaths)
  • Oconto – 4,256 cases (+1) (48 deaths)
  • Oneida - 3,358 cases (+4) (67 deaths)
  • Outagamie – 19,215 cases (+33) (194 deaths)
  • Ozaukee – 7,622 cases (+13) (77 deaths)
  • Pepin – 806 cases (7 deaths)
  • Pierce – 3,464 cases (+6) (33 deaths)
  • Polk – 3,905 cases (+12) (44 deaths)
  • Portage – 6,463 cases (+5) (64 deaths)
  • Price – 1,154 cases (+1) (7 deaths)
  • Racine – 20,317 cases (+17) (320 deaths)
  • Richland - 1,286 cases (+1) (14 deaths)
  • Rock – 14,384 cases (+29) (157 deaths)
  • Rusk - 1,253 cases (+4) (16 deaths)
  • Sauk – 5,271 cases (+13) (40 deaths) (+1)
  • Sawyer - 1,510 cases (+4) (21 deaths)
  • Shawano – 4,592 cases (+3) (70 deaths)
  • Sheboygan – 12,866 cases (+19) (128 deaths)
  • St. Croix – 6,370 cases (+17) (43 deaths)
  • Taylor - 1,798 cases (+1) (21 deaths)
  • Trempealeau – 3,384 cases (+5) (36 deaths)
  • Vernon – 1,828 cases (+6) (36 deaths)
  • Vilas - 2,119 cases (+2) (36 deaths)
  • Walworth – 8,827 cases (+12) (126 deaths)
  • Washburn – 1,292 cases (+1) (18 deaths)
  • Washington – 13,727 cases (+18) (134 deaths) (+1)
  • Waukesha – 40,534 cases (+30) (482 deaths)
  • Waupaca – 4,774 cases (+4) (112 deaths)
  • Waushara – 2,098 cases (31 deaths) (cases revised -1 by state)
  • Winnebago – 17,038 cases (+16) (183 deaths)
  • Wood – 6,686 cases (+4) (73 deaths)

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula **

  • Alger - 277 cases (1 death)
  • Baraga - 507 cases (+1) (32 deaths)
  • Chippewa - 720 cases (+1) (23 deaths)
  • Delta – 2,650 cases (+1) (65 deaths)
  • Dickinson - 2,131 cases (55 deaths)
  • Gogebic - 928 cases (+1) (19 deaths)
  • Houghton – 2,123 cases (+1) (33 deaths) (+1)
  • Iron – 866 cases (40 deaths)
  • Keweenaw – 114 cases (1 death) (cases revised -1 by state)
  • Luce – 132 cases
  • Mackinac - 290 cases (3 deaths)
  • Marquette - 3,455 cases (+3) (54 deaths)
  • Menominee - 1,615 cases (+1) (35 deaths)
  • Ontonagon – 359 cases (19 deaths)
  • Schoolcraft - 231 cases (+2) (4 deaths)

* Cases and deaths are from the daily DHS COVID-19 reports, which may differ from local health department numbers. The DHS reports cases from all health departments within a county’s boundaries, including tribal, municipal and county health departments; county websites may not. Also, public health departments update their data at various times, whereas the DHS freezes the numbers it receives by the same time every day to compile the afternoon report.

The DHS reports deaths attributed to COVID-19 or in which COVID-19 contributed to their death. Most of the people severely affected by the coronavirus have underlying illnesses or conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease or obesity, which raises a person’s risk of dying from COVID-19. They would’ve lived longer if not for their infection. The state may revise case and death numbers after further review, such as the victim’s residence, duplicated records, or a correction in lab results. Details can be found on the DHS website and Frequently Asked Questions.

**The state of Michigan does not update numbers on Sundays. Monday’s numbers include updates since Saturday’s reporting deadline.

COVID-19 Tracing App

Wisconsin’s COVID-19 tracing app, “Wisconsin Exposure Notification,” is available for iOS and Android smartphones. No download is required for iPhones. The Android app is available on Google Play. When two phones with the app (and presumably their owners) are close enough, for long enough, they’ll anonymously share a random string of numbers via Bluetooth. If someone tests positive for the coronavirus, they’ll receive a code to type into the app. If your phones “pinged” each other in the last 14 days, you’ll receive a push notification that you are at risk of exposure. The app doesn’t collect personal information or location information, so you won’t know from whom or where, but you will be told what day the exposure might have occurred so that you can quarantine for the appropriate amount of time.

Symptoms

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified these as possible symptoms of COVID-19:

  • Fever of 100.4 or higher
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

Prevention

  • The coronavirus is a new, or “novel,” virus. Nobody has a natural immunity to it.
  • Children and teens seem to recover best from the virus. Older people and those with underlying health conditions (heart disease, diabetes, lung disease) are considered at high risk, according to the CDC. Precautions are also needed around people with developing or weakened immune systems.
  • To help prevent the spread of the virus:
  • Stay at least six feet away from other people
  • Avoid close contact with people who are or appear sick
  • Stay at home as much as possible
  • Cancel events and avoid groups, gatherings, play dates and nonessential appointments

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