COVID-19 update: Vaccine waiting lists continue in Door, Kewaunee counties
Figures used to gauge community spread of the COVID-19 virus in Door and Kewaunee counties remained relatively consistent over the past week, but waiting lists are still in place for vaccines as both counties continue to deal with shortages of their expected supply of doses.
And the two county health departments are asking people to continue following the guidelines that help control the spread — wearing masks or face coverings, social distancing, avoiding large groups of people, frequent hand washing — while the vaccine continues to be rolled out.
"The Public Health Guidelines we know to be effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19 remain unchanged," the Door County Health and Human Services Department wrote on its website. "We are urging the community to remain diligent in following these guidelines to reduce further spread of COVID-19 in our community."
Door County Medical Center also noted the recent arrival of a more contagious COVID-19 mutation in America, including two cases found in Wisconsin, while urging the public in a blog on its website to continue to practice those measures.
"While the intention of the COVID-19 vaccine is to put an end to the pandemic, everyone in the community should continue to be aggressive about mask-wearing and social distancing because of the new virus variants," the post said.
The COVID-19 vaccine is one of the major pieces in slowing the spread of the virus, but the supply shortages mean county agencies haven't been able to give as many shots by this time as originally planned. All doses come from the federal government, and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services distributes them.
Because of the supply conditions, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services has directed providers to schedule appointments only for those who are in Phase 1B of the vaccine rollout who are ages 65 and older. Other Phase 1B individuals such as school and child care workers, people in Medicaid long-term care programs and some other essential workers are able to schedule their appointments starting March 1.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 5,353 doses have been given in Door County and 2,616 in Kewaunee County through Tuesday. Both vaccines being used in the counties, from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, require two shots for peak effectiveness, but the data did not specify how many of those were first or second doses and may include people vaccinated outside the counties.
The Door County Health and Human Services Department, which announced last week its health department was canceling previously scheduled appointments for first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine because of an inability to obtain its requested number of doses, did receive 200 first doses and 120 second doses this week and said it expects the department will continue to receive second doses as scheduled.
However, a statement Tuesday from the county said approximately 1,200 people are on its waiting list, so the health department won't open up scheduling options until it completes "a large portion" of those appointments and gains "a better idea of how the vaccine supply is working."
The Kewaunee County Public Health Department has 1,150 people on its waiting list as of Tuesday, and the county website said it may take up to 10 business days for the department to contact people who submit a request to be placed on its vaccination waiting list. It requested 500 first doses this week but received 175.
"Due to high interest, once your request is made, please do not reach out … as a staff member will call when you are eligible and a vaccine is available," the website said. "It is important that you answer when called as vaccines are time-sensitive and will be administered on a first-come, first-served basis. If you miss the call from the Kewaunee County Public Health Department, please do not call them back. You will remain on the waiting list, and our staff will call you back when another dose is available."
Positive rates increase slightly, other numbers drop
Meanwhile, the rate of positive tests for COVID-19 rose slightly in both Kewaunee and Door counties over the week from Feb. 2 to 8, and while those rates remain above what's considered an acceptable figure, they're well below what they were in preceding weeks.
The positivity rate is a metric used by many health departments to measure how well a community is fighting the spread of the virus. The World Health Organization has said that a rate of more than 5% is concerning because it means testing isn’t widespread enough to capture the spread of the virus among the general population. The rate across Wisconsin was 20.8% for the week ending Monday, according to the state health department.
Kewaunee County's rate of positive tests from Feb. 2 to 8 was 20.8%, compared to 19.4% for the week ending Feb. 2. That roughly one-in-five positivity rate comes after three straight weeks above the one-in-three mark, with rates of 37.3%, 35.4% and 35.5% each of the last three weeks in January.
The Kewaunee County Public Health Department reported 25 positive tests between Feb. 2 and 8, less than half of the 53 positives the week before and the lowest weekly number since mid-September. But the number of total test results also dropped by more than half for the week, from 273 to 120.
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With 20 of 138 tests reported as positive from Feb. 2 to 8 the positivity rate in Door County was 14.5%. While it's above the 11.5% figure of the previous week, it remains well below 22.7% for the week ending Jan. 25 and rates of more than one-in-three (34.3%, 33.2% and 33.7%) the three previous weeks.
Along with its 20 confirmed positives, the Door County Public Health Department also reported 192 cases as probable as of Tuesday. Those are cases who have not yet been confirmed positive by a lab but had a positive antigen test or have COVID-19 symptoms and known exposure to the virus. Such cases are considered positive by the department, and those in that category should isolate themselves and contact their employers and close contacts.
Another metric used by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to gauge COVID-19 spread, the number of positive tests in each county per 100,000 residents over a given time, continued to fall noticeably in Door and Kewaunee counties in the past seven days.
Kewaunee County's positives-per-100,000 number has been plummeting for the past month, to 132 for the period from Feb. 2 to 8. That's compared to 201 between Jan. 26 and Feb. 2, 339 on Jan. 25 and 432 on Jan. 11, and this week's figure is 24th-most among Wisconsin's 72 counties, after Kewaunee had the fourth-highest rate in each of the last two weeks of January.
Door County's positives-per-100,000 number for the past week is 76, 63rd-highest in the state. That compares to 94 for the week before and represents a significant drop from 359 on Jan. 18.
Since testing began last spring, Kewaunee County has seen 11,671 positives per 100,000, remaining fourth-highest in Wisconsin for a third straight week behind Menominee, Dodge and Jackson counties. Cumulatively, Door County has reported 8,598 positives per 100,000, 47th in the state.
No new deaths were reported from COVID-19 in either Kewaunee or Door county in the past week. That's three straight weeks Kewaunee County hasn't added to its COVID-19 toll after reporting at least one death every week since Oct. 24, with 32 of its 34 total deaths happening since Oct. 10. Deaths from the virus in Door County remain at 18 after two were reported between Jan. 19 and 25.
Cumulatively, Door County has seen a total of 2,354 positives from 15,770 total tests results since testing began, making the cumulative positivity rate 15.1%, same as it was a week ago and remaining below the cumulative state average of 17.8%.
One of every 10.7 Door County residents now has tested positive at some time. Eighty-four cases are active as of Monday, a decrease of 73 in the past week, while 2,461 cases have recovered. No one was hospitalized with virus complications in the past week.
Kewaunee County's cumulative total is 2,498 positive tests from 11,119 total results for a total positivity rate of 22.5% since testing began. One in every 8.2 county residents has tested positive at some time. Officials say 2,432 cases have recovered, and 32 cases in the county are active, compared to 54 a week ago and 84 the week before that. No one is hospitalized with virus complications as of Monday.
Contact Christopher Clough at 920-741-7952, 920-562-8900 or [email protected]
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: COVID-19 update: Vaccine waiting lists continue in Door, Kewaunee counties