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COVID-19 in Wisconsin: DHS compares vaccinated to unvaccinated case numbers

Hospitalization and death rates for the fully vaccinated were significantly lower as the delta variant become the dominant strain
Published: Aug. 19, 2021 at 11:23 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 19, 2021 at 6:05 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - The Wisconsin Department of Health Services unveiled a new web page Thursday showing the differences between COVID-19 case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths among vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

The DHS presents data through the month of July, before half of the state’s population was fully vaccinated. The DHS considers a person fully vaccinated 14 days after their final dose in a vaccine series -- one dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine or their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

“By displaying the rates side-by-side, users can clearly see the difference in rates between these two groups,” the DHS says. “The overwhelming majority of Wisconsinites who are infected with COVID-19 are not fully vaccinated.”

July 2021: COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths among fully vaccinated and not fully...
July 2021: COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths among fully vaccinated and not fully vaccinated people.(Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services)

The numbers show a much higher number of vaccinated people testing positive for COVID-19 in July as the delta variant became the dominant COVID-19 strain -- 125.6 cases per 100,000 compared to 14.4 cases per 100,000 in June. However, compared to the rest of the population, hospitalization and death rates for the fully vaccinated were significantly lower:

Not fully vaccinated or unvaccinated (July 2021)

  • 3,692 cases per million
  • 182 hospitalizations per million
  • 11 deaths per million

Fully vaccinated (July 2021)

  • 1,254 cases per million people
  • 49 hospitalizations per million
  • 1 death per million

“The COVID-19 vaccines are still doing their job by stopping the spread of many new infections, and by preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death,” DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake wrote in a statement Thursday.

UPDATE: The DHS reports 50.4% of Wisconsinites have completed their vaccinations, out of 53.6% of the population that’s had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Looking only at the adult population, 64.5% received at least one shot and 60.9% completed their vaccine series. We have details on the state and county numbers in a separate article here.

Timberlake wrote, “With the original strain of COVID-19, an infected person was likely to infect two other people, who were then likely to infect two additional people for a total of 6 cases from one infection. With the delta variant, an infected person is likely to infect about five people, who are then likely to infect 25 people for a total of 30 cases from one infection.” The Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene says the delta variant accounts for 92.3% of samples tested so far in August.

Ryan Westergaard, DHS Chief Medical Officer of communicable disease, said everything we do to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 -- vaccinating, masking, social distancing, hand washing -- “we have to do more of, and better, in areas of high spread” of the virus.

As of Wednesday, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) reports 12 counties are considered as having very high activity level, and increase of eight from last week’s report. The other 60 counties are all listed as having high activity level. You can track the rate of activity level for Wisconsin counties during the past few weeks in the table below.

The state has also updated the level of the virus’ spread throughout Wisconsin counties. The DHS bases this activity level on two factors: the rate of positive tests per 100,000 people over the past two weeks (the “burden”) and the percent change in cases over the past week (the “trajectory”).

Time periodVery HighHighModerateLow
(lower is better)(higher is better)
August 3 - August 17126000
July 28 - August 1046800
July 21 - August 317100
July 14 - July 27057150
July 7 - July 20029385
June 30 - July 130154413
June 23 - July 6025218
June 16 - June 29045117
June 9 - June 22075411

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