CDC: Florence, Pepin counties lead state in spreading COVID-19

The DHS says over 98% of COVID-19 cases this year were people who were not fully vaccinated
Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 2:28 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 28, 2021 at 3:39 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - The spread of the COVID-19 virus remains high throughout much of Wisconsin. The Department of Health Services (DHS) says the state confirmed almost 800 new cases (792) in the latest test results. These are among people being tested for the first time or who tested positive for the first time. Over the past 7 days, Wisconsin is averaging 478 new cases per day.

The positivity rate -- the percentage of all tests which came back positive, including people tested multiple times -- is up to 5.3% over the last 7 days. We had to look back to late January to find the positivity rate that high. That’s an indicator of the virus’s spread in the state. A total 619,040 people in Wisconsin have tested positive since the first case in 2020.

COVID-19′s death toll is 7,433. We questioned the number reported by the DHS Tuesday afternoon, which was a net decrease of 68 from the day before despite deaths in four counties in our viewing area, suggesting an error on the DHS website. The current toll of 7,433 deaths reflects a net increase of 25 since Monday. In the past day, The state received reports of two deaths in Sheboygan County and one death each in Brown, Fond du Lac, Kewaunee and Oconto counties. The state says only two deaths just reported to the state occurred in the last 30 days, so the state is still averaging 2 COVID-19 deaths per day. 1.2% of all coronavirus cases over the last year-and-a-half were fatal.

State numbers show 50 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment in the past 24-hour period, a bit higher than our calculated average of 42 admissions per day. The DHS says 33,134 people have ever been hospitalized in Wisconsin for COVID-19, which is 5.4% of all cases.

After taking discharges and deaths into account, the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) reported 195 COVID-19 patients among the state’s hospitals Wednesday, with 58 in ICU. That’s four fewer patients in intensive care but 9 more patients overall than the day before. The Northeast health care region’s hospitals were treating 11 of them, including 5 in ICU; that’s 2 fewer patients in ICU and 6 fewer patients overall. The Fox Valley region’s hospitals had 11 patients, none in ICU; those numbers didn’t change.

We’ll get updates later this afternoon on current hospitalizations taking discharges and deaths into account. On Tuesday, hospitals were treating 186 patients for COVID-19, with 62 of them in ICU, according to the . Northeast health care region hospitals had 17 patients, with 7 in intensive care. Fox Valley hospitals were treating 11 patients, but none needed intensive care.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) says this year through July 22, over 98% of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin were people who were not fully vaccinated. These include people who are never vaccinated, received the first but not the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or were infected less than two weeks after getting their final dose and before it fully took effect. People who’ve had a vaccine are more likely to be asymptomatic or have mild symptoms.

Even people who recovered from COVID-19 are encouraged to get vaccinated. In a news release Wednesday, the DHS warns, in boldface text, that a previous COVID-19 infection won’t ensure any protection against the delta variant.

“We must protect our children as they head back to school this fall, along with all other Wisconsinites who are at an increased risk for being hospitalized from COVID-19. Vaccines and the additional protection from wearing masks are the best combination of tools to achieve this goal,” DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk wrote.

About 46% of the U.S. population lives in a community the CDC considers having “high” COVID-19 transmission. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends masks for everyone indoors in communities where the delta variant is prevalent, even if you’re vaccinated.

RELATED STORY: Explainer: Why masks are again advised for everyone indoors

The DHS said Wednesday virus activity is high in 57 counties and moderate in 15. There are no counties where the virus’s spread is low. That’s a big change from four weeks ago, when only two counties had high virus activity. The activity level is high in every county in WBAY’s viewing area except Door, Kewaunee, Langlade, Menominee and Waushara, where it’s moderate. A county’s activity level is based on the number of new cases per capita and the trajectory, or percent change, in cases from previous weeks.

The DHS says there were 99.7 cases for every 100,000 people between July 7 and July 27. In other words, 1 in every 1,000 people in Wisconsin was infected and tested positive in the last two weeks.

Time periodCounties with High activity
(lower is better)
Counties with
Medium activity
Counties with Low activity
(higher is better)
July 14 - July 2757150
July 7 - July 2029385
June 30 - July 13154413
June 23 - July 625218
June 16 - June 2945117
June 9 - June 2275411

Regionally, the CDC data tracker on Wednesday singled out Florence and Pepin counties in Wisconsin, as well as neighboring Dickinson County in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, for having the highest virus transmission rates in the state. The spread of the COVID-19 virus is “substantial” in Forest, Shawano, Adams, Bayfield, Buffalo, Milwaukee, Price, Vernon and Waukesha counties, and in the U.P.’s Gogebic and Iron counties, which border Wisconsin. The CDC considers transmission low in Menominee, Oconto, Waushara, Barron, Lincoln, Polk and Vilas counties. The CDC calculates transmission differently than the DHS, basing it on the number of new cases per capita and the positivity rate of tests in each county over the past 7 days.

Shawano, in the “substantial” category, and Waushara, in the “low,” category, have the lowest vaccination rates in WBAY’s viewing area. The latest data show 38.0% and 36.7% of their populations, respectively, had at least one dose of a vaccine. They are the only counties, of the 19 we’re tracking, with vaccination rates under 40%.

Brown, Door, Menominee, Outagamie and Sheboygan are the only counties we’re tracking that have 50% or more of its population getting vaccinated. Only Door County has more than half of its population fully vaccinated, but Brown, Menominee and Outagamie counties are close.


County (Population) (Health region)% of population (change from previous report)Completed % of population (change from previous report)
Brown (264,542) (NE)51.5% (+0.0)49.2% (-0.2)
Calumet (50,089) (FV)46.6% (+0.1)44.5% (+0.0)
Dodge (87,839)41.5% (+0.0)39.6% (+0.1)
Door (27,668) (NE)67.0% (+0.1)64.8% (+0.0)
Fond du Lac (103,403) (SE)44.4% (+0.1)42.4% (+0.0)
Forest (9,004)42.5% (+0.1)40.8% (+0.1)
Florence (4,295) (NE)44.7% (+0.0)43.1% (+0.0)
Green Lake (18,913) (FV)45.4% (+0.0)43.7% (+0.1)
Kewaunee (20,434) (NE)41.7% (+0.1)40.6% (+0.0)
Manitowoc (78,981) (NE)48.7% (+0.2)46.5% (+0.1)
Marinette (40,350) (NE)42.7% (+0.0)40.8% (+0.0)
Menominee (4,556) (FV)54.0% (+0.1)49.8% (+0.1)
Oconto (37,930) (NE)43.1% (+0.1)41.5% (+0.0)
Outagamie (187,885) (FV)51.5% (+0.1)49.2% (+0.0)
Shawano (40,899) (FV)38.0% (+0.1)36.3% (+0.0)
Sheboygan (115,340) (SE)50.1% (+0.1)48.0% (+0.0)
Waupaca (50,990) (FV)44.5% (+0.1)42.7% (+0.0)
Waushara (24,443) (FV)36.7% (+0.0)35.2% (+0.0)
Winnebago (171,907) (FV)49.6% (+0.1)47.4% (+0.0)
NORTHEAST REGION (474,200) (NE)237,625 (50.1%) (+0.1)227,927 (48.1%) (+0.1)
FOX VALLEY REGION (549,682) (FV)263,754 (48.0%) (+0.1)252,117 (45.9%) (+0.1)
WISCONSIN (5,822,434)3,008,956 (51.7%) (+0.1)2,864,148 (49.2%) (+0.1)

Statewide, 51.7% of the population received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, which is 3,008,956 people. Of these, 49.2%, or 2,864,148 Wisconsinites, completed their vaccination regimen. These percentages include Wisconsin’s children too young to get a vaccine. Looking only at the adult population, the state says 62.5% had a vaccine dose, including 59.8% finishing their series.

Since their last update, vaccinators reported 5,666 more people getting a dose of vaccine who hadn’t had one before, while another 3,458 people completed their vaccine regimen.

Children 12 to 18 and adults 25 to 44 saw the largest increases in the percentage of their age groups getting vaccinated in Wednesday’s report:

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

  • 12-15: 33.0% received a dose (+0.3)/28.4% completed (+0.2)
  • 16-17: 42.2% received a dose (+0.2)/38.4% completed (+0.1)
  • 18-24: 44.3% received a dose (+0.1)/40.7% completed (+0.1)
  • 25-34: 48.8% received a dose (+0.2)/45.7% completed (+0.0)
  • 35-44: 56.7% received a dose (+0.2)/53.7% completed (+0.1)
  • 45-54: 58.9% received a dose (+0.1)/56.1% completed (+0.1)
  • 55-64: 69.1% received a dose (+0.1)/66.5% completed (+0.1)
  • 65+: 83.7% received a dose (+0.0)/81.7% completed (+0.1)

Health departments and school districts urged parents to start getting kids 12 and up vaccinated ahead of school. Health officials note that vaccinating older children can protect younger siblings who are too young to get the vaccine as well as other members of the family and their friends. The Pfizer vaccine is the only one approved so far for kids ages 12 to 17. A second dose is needed 3 weeks later, and it takes two weeks after that to take full effect.

The CDC recommends face masks in K-12 schools for students, teachers, staff and visitors, regardless of vaccination status. Recently, Appleton Area Public Schools and St. Mary Catholic Schools said they intend to make wearing masks optional when the new school year begins. Green Bay Area Public Schools decided to make masks optional for grades 7 through 12 but will continue requiring them for young kids through 6th grade since many of them are too young to be eligible for a vaccine. The Green Bay Area Catholic Education System (GRACE) says mask wearing will be left up to each school and the parents. Neenah’s school board voted Tuesday night to make masks optional.

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Tuesday, the DHS website removed the number of active and recovered cases -- those are people diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus in the last 30 days or survived past the 30 days. The last report on Monday said 1% of cases were active and 98% were considered recovered. Health officials acknowledged long ago that “recovered” cases included people suffering long-term health effects from their infection, the so-called “long haulers.”

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

  • Brown – 32,120 cases (+11) (259 deaths) (+1)
  • Calumet – 5,888 cases (+7) (51 deaths)
  • Dickinson (Mich.)* - 2,432 cases (59 deaths)
  • Dodge – 12,096 cases (+5) (177 deaths)
  • Door – 2,646 cases (+1) (30 deaths) (+1)
  • Florence - 458 cases (cases revised -1 by state) (13 deaths)
  • Fond du Lac – 12,701 cases (+20) (131 deaths) (+1)
  • Forest - 979 cases (24 deaths)
  • Gogebic (Mich.)* - 1,083 cases (24 deaths)
  • Green Lake - 1,630 cases (+2) (21 deaths)
  • Iron (Mich.)* – 1,004 cases (43 deaths)
  • Kewaunee – 2,388 cases (+1) (28 deaths) (+1)
  • Langlade - 2,059 cases (+2) (35 deaths)
  • Manitowoc – 7,683 cases (+1) (76 deaths)
  • Marinette - 4,252 cases (+2) (68 deaths)
  • Menominee (Mich.)* - 1,806 cases (41 deaths)
  • Menominee – 806 cases (+1) (11 deaths)
  • Oconto – 4,565 cases (+4) (63 deaths) (+1)
  • Outagamie – 20,975 cases (+12) (225 deaths)
  • Shawano – 4,800 cases (+3) (73 deaths)
  • Sheboygan – 13,981 cases (+14) (154 deaths) (+2)
  • Waupaca – 5,013 cases (+4) (123 deaths)
  • Waushara – 2,230 cases (35 deaths)
  • Winnebago – 18,502 cases (+40) (203 deaths)

* The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and Wisconsin Hospital Association do not publish updates on weekends. Michigan Department of Health only updates information on Tuesdays and Fridays.

** 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.

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