COVID-19 in Wisconsin: “Critical” counties drop by half, 63 have “very high” virus activity

26 deaths were added to the state’s COVID-19 toll, but cases and hospitalizations were down
Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 2:29 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 20, 2021 at 5:16 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - The number of Wisconsin counties where the spread of the COVID-19 virus is considered “critically high” dropped from 16 to 8 in state health officials’ weekly update. The virus’s spread is still labeled “very high” in 63 counties, up from 65 last week. It is “high” in 1 county, Dane County.

The Department of Health Services (DHS) says half of the 8 counties that remain critically high are in our corner of Wisconsin: Florence, Langlade, Marinette and Oconto.

The ratings are based on the number of new cases per 100,000 residents (the “burden”) and the percentage in the change of daily cases over the past two weeks (the “trajectory”). Manitowoc County, which has “very high” activity, has seen a growing number of cases over the past two weeks. Cases are on the decline in Brown, Green Lake, Langlade, Oconto, Waushara and Winnebago counties. The other counties in WBAY’s viewing area saw no significant change.

Statewide, the DHS reported 2,066 new cases were confirmed in the latest test results Wednesday. The state is averaging 1,923 cases per day over the last week, down a tad from yesterday’s 1,977 cases per day. Calumet County passed a total 7,000 cases, and Dickinson County, Mich., crossed 3,000. A total 772,918 people in Wisconsin have been infected with the coronavirus since the first case was identified in February, 2020. An average of 7.5% of all tests over the past 7 days came back positive. The positivity rate has been declining and is back to where it was in mid-August.

A total 26 deaths were added to COVID-19′s toll on the state, with the DHS reporting 22 of these happening in the last 30 days. Five people were from WBAY’s viewing area: Winnebago County reported 2 deaths. Brown, Dodge and Florence each had 1. Wisconsin is averaged 11 COVID-19 deaths each day over the past week. The death rate slipped to 1.07% of all cases, the lowest since January 26 when the death rate was on the rise, eventually peaking at 1.20% of all cases in late July and the start of August. A total 8,293 people have died. County case and death totals for WBAY’s viewing area appear at the end of our daily updates.

Another 142 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment since the last state report. To date, 5.36% of all identified coronavirus cases resulted in hospitalization, or a total 41,441 people. By our calculations, the state averaged 120 hospitalizations per day over the last 7 days, continuing a week of decline.

The number of patients in ICU increased by 11 to 319, the most at one time since the end of September. The Wisconsin Hospital Association reports a total 1,069 people are hospitalized for COVID-19, a net change of -1 after considering new admissions, discharges and deaths in the past 24 hours. The Northeast health care region has 158 of those patients, 1 fewer than a day ago, with 43 in ICU for a third straight day; there are 3 ICU beds available among the 10 hospitals. The Fox Valley hospitals are treating 92 patients, also 1 fewer than yesterday, with 24 in ICU, an increase of 3; there are 2 ICU beds available among the 13 hospitals.

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The White House announced plans for getting reduced doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 to vaccinators across the country if the vaccine gets regulators’ approval. Wisconsin health officials report in the past 20 months of the pandemic, 1,601 young people under the age of 20 were ever hospitalized for COVID-19, including 570 children under the age of 10, and only four people under the age of 20 have died from the disease, none of them under 10.

But vaccines aren’t just for the vaccinated, they’re to avoid catching and spreading the virus to the people around them -- whether it’s COVID-19, flu, chickenpox, et cetera.

In September, the unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated had a 1 in 43 chance of getting the COVID-19 virus, according the latest data from the DHS. The fully vaccinated reduced their chance of being infected to 1 in 194, and hence their risk of spreading the illness.

If you were unvaccinated and tested positive, you had a 1 in 20 chance of being hospitalized and a 1 in 96 chance of dying. If you were fully vaccinated, your chance of being hospitalized was cut to 1 in 37, and you had four times less risk of dying -- 1 in 395.

Wisconsin is slowly approaching 6.5 million “shots in the arm” of COVID-19 vaccines over the past 10 months (6,466,485 doses). These shots went to Wisconsin residents and non-residents, such as out-of-state residents who work here.

Looking just at Wisconsinites, more than 3.3 million (3,347,154) received at least one dose of vaccine, or 57.5% of the population. This includes 3,188,665 adults and children who completed their vaccine series, which is 54.8% of the population. Currently, 14% of the population -- kids age 0 to 11 -- aren’t eligible for a vaccine.

Among adults, we’re looking at 72.1% of women and 64.5% of men getting the vaccine, with 69% of women and 61.4% of men being fully vaccinated. That’s almost 3 million adults (2,985,212) getting the full dosage.

Wisconsinites getting COVID-19 vaccine, by age group (Wednesday) (and change since last report)

  • 12-15: 47.7% received vaccine (+0.1)/44.1% fully vaccinated (+0.1)
  • 16-17: 52.6% received vaccine (+0.1)/49.3% fully vaccinated (+0.0)
  • 18-24: 52.7% received vaccine (+0.1)/48.4% fully vaccinated (+0.1)
  • 25-34: 57.2% received vaccine (+0.1)/53.2% fully vaccinated (+0.1)
  • 35-44: 64.6% received vaccine (+0.0)/61.1% fully vaccinated (+0.1)
  • 45-54: 65.6% received vaccine (+0.0)/62.6% fully vaccinated (+0.0)
  • 55-64: 74.1% received vaccine (+0.0)/71.7% fully vaccinated (+0.1)
  • 65 and up: 86.1% received vaccine (+0.0)/83.8% fully vaccinated (+0.0)

Statewide, the percentage of residents getting their first shot or completing their vaccinations both rose by one-tenth of a percent in the past day. Locally, counties saw more gains in people completing their vaccination series than stepping up for their first shot. The 8-county Fox Valley region, which bucked the state trend and saw increases in both categories yesterday, saw no change in percentage.


County (Population) (Health region)% of population (change from previous report)Completed % of population (change from previous report)
Brown (264,542) (NE)58.3% (+0.0)56.0% (+0.1)
Calumet (50,089) (FV)51.9% (+0.0)49.8% (+0.1)
Dodge (87,839)47.1% (+0.0)45.0% (+0.1)
Door (27,668) (NE)72.7% (+0.1)69.5% (+0.0)
Fond du Lac (103,403) (SE)50.4% (+0.0)48.1% (+0.1)
Forest (9,004)47.8% (+0.1)45.6% (+0.1)
Florence (4,295) (NE)47.9% (+0.0)46.0% (-0.1)
Green Lake (18,913) (FV)51.9% (+0.0)49.6% (+0.1)
Kewaunee (20,434) (NE)47.4% (+0.0)45.9% (+0.1)
Langlade (19,189)49.3% (+0.1)47.0% (+0.0)
Manitowoc (78,981) (NE)54.7% (+0.0)52.6% (+0.1)
Marinette (40,350) (NE)48.4% (+0.1)45.9% (+0.0)
Menominee (4,556) (FV)69.5% (+0.3)66.7% (+0.3)
Oconto (37,930) (NE)48.8% (+0.0)47.0% (+0.1)
Outagamie (187,885) (FV)57.8% (+0.0)55.4% (+0.1)
Shawano (40,899) (FV)43.4% (+0.0)41.5% (+0.1)
Sheboygan (115,340) (SE)55.9% (+0.0)53.7% (+0.1)
Waupaca (50,990) (FV)50.6% (+0.0)48.2% (+0.0)
Waushara (24,443) (FV)41.7% (+0.0)39.6% (+0.0)
Winnebago (171,907) (FV)55.8% (+0.0)53.3% (+0.0)
NORTHEAST REGION (474,200) (NE)267,354 (56.4%) (+0.1)256,576 (54.1%) (+0.0)
FOX VALLEY REGION (549,682) (FV)297,383 (54.1%) (+0.0)284,369 (51.7%) (+0.0)
WISCONSIN (5,822,434)3,347,154 (57.5%) (+0.1)3,188,665 (54.8%) (+0.1)


The De Pere Health Dept. is holding a drive-through vaccination clinic Saturday, Oct. 23, from 10 A.M. to 2:10 P.M. at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, 347 Libal St. The clinic is by appointment only. You can get the Pfizer vaccine (2nd dose Nov. 13 at St. Anne’s) or one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines are free. Flu shots are also available, free for 6 months through 18 years old, or $20 for adults 19 and older.

The community vaccination clinic inside Fox River Mall in Grand Chute is open from 11 A.M. to 7 P.M. on select dates through December 15. The list of dates will be updated on the Outagamie County website. No appointment is necessary for this walk-in clinic, which is located near the food court and Scheel’s. There’s no cost and no ID required.

The Oshkosh Farmers Market is hosting COVID-19 vaccination clinics on the next two Saturdays in October: Oct. 23 and Oct. 30. All of the clinics will be held at the Time Community Theater, 445 N. Main St., from 8 A.M. to 12 P.M. The Winnebago County Health Department will have vaccine available for everyone age 12 and up. The vaccine is free.


The City of Appleton is expanding its testing and vaccination clinics at the old Best Buy building, 2411 S. Kensington Dr. Starting today, the site will offer walk-in testing Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. Walk-in vaccination clinics are on Thursdays from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. and Fridays from 7 A.M. to 12 P.M. Pre-registration isn’t required, but it’s encouraged to speed up the process.

Walk-in or drive-through COVID-19 testing is available at Sunnyview Expo Center weekdays from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M., with the Wisconsin National Guard handling the testing. Registration is encouraged at Testing is recommended (and free) for anyone as young as 1 year old who’s been in close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19, which can include fever, chills, cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat, runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, headache, muscle ache, or sudden loss of taste or smell. Results are usually back within 48 hours.

WEDNESDAY’S COUNTY CASE AND DEATH TOTALS (increases in cases or deaths since the last report are in bold) **

  • Brown – 39,493 215 cases (+278) (265 deaths) (+1)
  • Calumet – 7,006 cases (+17) (53 deaths)
  • Dickinson (Mich.)* - 3,016 cases (+18) (64 deaths)
  • Dodge – 14,543 cases (+35) (198 deaths) (+1)
  • Door – 3,450 cases (+18) (32 deaths)
  • Florence - 528 cases (+7) (14 deaths) (+1)
  • Fond du Lac – 16,369 cases (+31) (146 deaths)
  • Forest - 1,394 cases (+7) (27 deaths)
  • Gogebic (Mich.)* - 1,387 cases (+14) (24 deaths)
  • Green Lake - 2,407 cases (+8) (26 deaths)
  • Iron (Mich.)* – 1,284 cases (+12) (45 deaths)
  • Kewaunee – 2,916 cases (+8) (30 deaths)
  • Langlade - 2,892 cases (+15) (38 deaths)
  • Manitowoc – 9,600 cases (+42) (84 deaths)
  • Marinette - 5,598 cases (+32) (69 deaths)
  • Menominee (Mich.)* - 2,509 cases (+30) (45 deaths)
  • Menominee – 934 cases (+3) (11 deaths)
  • Oconto – 5,892 cases (+11) (65 deaths)
  • Outagamie – 24,986 cases (+50) (241 deaths)
  • Shawano – 5,968 cases (+22) (77 deaths)
  • Sheboygan – 16,505 cases (+37) (167 deaths)
  • Waupaca – 6,587 cases (+20) (137 deaths)
  • Waushara – 2,959 cases (+7) (45 deaths)
  • Winnebago – 22,824 cases (+43) (230 deaths) (+2)

* You can find cases and deaths for all 72 Wisconsin counties on the DHS County Data website. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and Wisconsin Hospital Association do not publish updates on weekends. Michigan Department of Health updates information on Mondays, Wednesdays 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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