COVID-19 virus activity high in 29 Wisconsin counties

It’s nearly doubled from 15 counties one week ago
Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 2:18 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 21, 2021 at 2:40 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - The state Department of Health Services says the spread of the COVID-19 virus is much higher than a week ago. The DHS says virus activity is high in 29 counties, nearly double the 15 counties that had high spread a week ago, and a 1,450% increase from the 2 counties two weeks ago.

In our area, counties with high virus activity include Calumet, Dodge, Florence, Fond du Lac, Forest, Outagamie, Shawano and Winnebago. Case numbers are up more than 200% over the past two weeks in Calumet and Winnebago counties, according to the DHS disease activity charts.

Virus activity is low in 5 counties, including Menominee County -- the rest are Lincoln in north-central Wisconsin and Ashland, Barron and Polk counties in northwestern Wisconsin. It’s moderate in the remaining 38 counties.

The DHS reports Wisconsin is averaging 221 new cases per day, a jump from 193 on Tuesday, based on the 7-day average. It’s the 15th straight day that rolling average has risen. The DHS says it received 345 positive tests in the latest batch of results. Information from the Wisconsin Hospital Association indicates that’s out of 7,101 test results for people being tested for the first time or testing positive for the first time. That’s the most tests we’ve seen in a single day since March 31 -- so a relatively low 5% of those tests were positive.

The positivity rate for all tests rose to an average 2.8% from 2.5% Tuesday. That’s the percentage of tests that came back positive in the past 7-day period, including results for people who’ve been tested before. That’s getting close to the 3% often cited by health officials as the measure at which the spread of the virus is considered managed, but trajectory matters, too.

Seven deaths from COVID-19 were reported to the state, including a person who lived in Green Lake County. Three of these deaths happened in the past 30 days. The DHS says Wisconsin is still averaging only 1 death per day. The death rate was steady at 1.20% of all known cases, with a toll of 7,390 lives.

State numbers show 40 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 in the past 24-hour period. That’s fewer than Monday and Tuesday but still above our calculated 7-day average of 32 hospital admissions per day.

The Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) reports 143 COVID-19 patients are in hospitals Wednesday, including 37 in ICU. That’s 3 fewer patients in intensive care and one fewer patient overall compared to Tuesday, after taking new admissions minus discharges and deaths into account. The WHA says Northeast health care region hospitals are treating 11 COVID-19 patients among them, with 3 in ICU -- that’s 1 more in ICU and 1 more patient overall compared to the day before. Fox Valley region hospitals are treating 8 COVID-19 patients, with none in intensive care, the same as Tuesday.

Even with numbers going up quickly, the severity of what we’re seeing now is nowhere near the coronavirus surges Wisconsin saw last summer, fall or winter -- even while some states are experiencing worse surges. Vaccinations are helping to slow the spread of the disease as well as reduce the severity of symptoms among those who have been fully vaccinated but still test positive.

In Wisconsin, 51.2% of the population has started or finished COVID-19 vaccinations, nearing 3 million people, including 48.9% of Wisconsinites who are fully vaccinated.

We don’t have statistics for Wisconsin, but nationally it’s been reported unvaccinated people account for 98% to 99% of new cases. These include children who aren’t eligible for any vaccine yet. Health officials worry that the virus’s spread through unvaccinated populations will lead to more mutations, such as the delta variant, which is believed to be responsible for 83% of recent coronavirus cases nationally, up from 51% of cases at the beginning of July.

We’ve been reporting on the slowing of vaccinations in Wisconsin for a couple months now. Yesterday was the first time in a month new vaccinations outnumbered people completing their vaccination regimen. That was no longer true on Wednesday but the numbers were close: Vaccinators reported 4,622 more people who hadn’t received a vaccine before got a dose, while 4,484 (corrected figure) more people got their second dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Waushara, Shawano, Dodge and Kewaunee counties have the lowest vaccination rates in WBAY’s viewing area. Vaccination rates in Shawano and Waushara counties are below 40%.

Door, Menominee, Brown and Outagamie counties have the highest vaccination rates, over 50%.

Those are county averages. On the DHS vaccine data map, you can see vaccination rates by municipality, ZIP Code or a school district’s borders. For example, although 51.1% of Brown County residents have received at least one “shot in the arm,” it ranges from 36.2% of the town of Morrison and 64.6% of the town of Lawrence.


County (Population) (Health region)% of population (change from previous report)Completed % of population (change from previous report)
Brown (264,542) (NE)51.1% (+0.1)49.1% (+0.1)
Calumet (50,089) (FV)46.2% (+0.1)44.2% (+0.1)
Dodge (87,839)41.0% (+0.0)39.3% (+0.0)
Door (27,668) (NE)66.5% (+0.1)64.5% (+0.0)
Fond du Lac (103,403) (SE)43.8% (+0.0)42.1% (+0.1)
Forest (9,004)42.2% (+0.2)40.7% (+0.1)
Florence (4,295) (NE)44.4% (+0.0)42.9% (+0.1)
Green Lake (18,913) (FV)44.9% (+0.1)43.3% (+0.1)
Kewaunee (20,434) (NE)41.4% (+0.0)40.3% (+0.1)
Manitowoc (78,981) (NE)48.1% (+0.1)46.2% (+0.1)
Marinette (40,350) (NE)42.3% (+0.1)40.5% (+0.1)
Menominee (4,556) (FV)53.0% (+0.1)49.5% (+0.0)
Oconto (37,930) (NE)42.7% (+0.1)41.3% (+0.1)
Outagamie (187,885) (FV)51.0% (+0.1)48.9% (+0.1)
Shawano (40,899) (FV)37.7% (+0.1)36.1% (+0.1)
Sheboygan (115,340) (SE)49.6% (+0.0)47.7% (+0.0)
Waupaca (50,990) (FV)43.9% (+0.1)42.3% (+0.0)
Waushara (24,443) (FV)36.3% (+0.1)35.0% (+0.1)
Winnebago (171,907) (FV)49.0% (+0.0)47.0% (+0.0)
NORTHEAST REGION (474,200) (NE)235,186 (49.6%) (+0.1)226,297 (47.7%) (+0.1)
FOX VALLEY REGION (549,682) (FV)260,796 (47.4%) (+0.0)250,187 (45.5%) (+0.1)
WISCONSIN (5,822,434)2,981,652 (51.2%) (+0.1)2,844,891 (48.9%) (+0.1)

Wisconsin population vaccinated, by age group (and change since last report)

  • 12-15: 31.5% received a dose (+0.2)/27.4% completed (+0.2)
  • 16-17: 41.2% received a dose (+0.1)/37.8% completed (+0.2)
  • 18-24: 43.6% received a dose (+0.1)/40.1% completed (+0.1)
  • 25-34: 48.2% received a dose (+0.0)/45.3% completed (+0.1)
  • 35-44: 56.1% received a dose (+0.1)/53.3% completed (+0.1)
  • 45-54: 58.3% received a dose (+0.0)/55.7% completed (+0.1)
  • 55-64: 68.6% received a dose (+0.1)/66.1% completed (+0.0)
  • 65+: 83.5% received a dose (+0.0)/81.5% completed (+0.0)

The Winnebago County Health Department advised the window is closing for kids 12 and older to get vaccinated in order to be fully vaccinated -- and have that vaccination as effective as it can be -- before September 1. The Pfizer vaccine is the only one approved for children 12 to 17, so kids in that age group would need to get their first shot by July 27, and their second shot three weeks later, plus two weeks for the vaccine to arm the body’s immune system. Anyone 18 and older would have to start the Moderna vaccine regimen today, July 20, or get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by August 17.

Pfizer has been doing clinical studies of its vaccine in younger children. Pfizer says it could be ready to ask the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization for ages 5 to 11 in September.

The DHS says children up to age 19 account for 16.5% of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin over the past year-and-a-half, including 2% of hospitalizations. That includes 137 new cases the week of July 11, second only to the 25-34 age group.

February 5, 2020, to July 21, 2021

  • 615,732 confirmed coronavirus cases
  • 32,838 hospitalizations (5%)
  • 7,390 deaths (1.20%)
  • 3,374 cases still active (1%)
  • 604,601 considered recovered (98%)

Tuesday, active cases climbed back to 1% of all coronavirus cases in Wisconsin since that first confirmed patient in Madison. Health officials encourage people to continue mitigation efforts if they’re not vaccinated, including wearing masks, social distancing and frequent hand-washing. There’s debate in the medical community about whether vaccinated people should continue these mitigation efforts, too, saying there’s no harm but potential benefits in doing so.

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

  • Brown – 32,037 cases (+8) (256 deaths)
  • Calumet – 5,865 cases (+2) (51 deaths)
  • Dickinson (Mich.)* - 2,421 cases (59 deaths)
  • Dodge – 12,050 cases (+3) (177 deaths)
  • Door – 2,639 cases (+2) (27 deaths)
  • Florence - 457 cases (13 deaths)
  • Fond du Lac – 12,661 cases (+4) (130 deaths)
  • Forest - 971 cases (+1) (24 deaths)
  • Gogebic (Mich.)* - 1,080 cases (24 deaths)
  • Green Lake - 1,623 cases (+1) (20 deaths) (+1)
  • Iron (Mich.)* – 996 cases (43 deaths)
  • Kewaunee – 2,380 cases (27 deaths)
  • Langlade - 2,056 cases (35 deaths)
  • Manitowoc – 7,666 cases (+1) (76 deaths)
  • Marinette - 4,242 cases (68 deaths)
  • Menominee (Mich.)* - 1,803 cases (42 deaths)
  • Menominee – 805 cases (11 deaths)
  • Oconto – 4,553 cases (+2) (61 deaths)
  • Outagamie – 20,923 cases (+11) (223 deaths)
  • Shawano – 4,777 cases (73 deaths)
  • Sheboygan – 13,942 cases (+3) (152 deaths)
  • Waupaca – 4,991 cases (+4) (123 deaths)
  • Waushara – 2,227 cases (+1) (35 deaths)
  • Winnebago – 18,445 cases (+6) (202 deaths)

* As of July 2, Michigan Department of Health only updates information on Tuesdays and Fridays. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and Wisconsin Hospital Association do not update reports on weekends.

** Cases and deaths are from state COVID-19 reports, which may differ from local health department numbers. The Wisconsin 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.

Copyright 2021 WBAY. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.