COVID-19 update: Vaccines for Door, Kewaunee counties in short supply, but positive rates tumble
In a bit of good news for Door and Kewaunee counties in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, both counties saw their rate of positive tests for the virus across seven days drop dramatically over the past week.
But that comes at the same time the public health departments in both counties are canceling previously scheduled appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine, one of the major pieces in slowing the spread of the virus, because of a shortage of doses.
The doses come from the federal government, and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services distributes them. But Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy director of the state department, said Tuesday that the demand from county health departments for doses is about four times the number allocated to the state so far.
Because counties scheduled vaccine appointments with the understanding that they would receive the full amount of doses they requested from the state, the resulting shortage has led to the cancellations.
The Door County Health and Human Services Department canceled 300 appointments for first doses of the vaccine last week because of the shortages and canceled another 360 appointments scheduled for this week, although second-dose appointments are still on schedule. Of the more than 600 doses requested last week and this week combined, only 50 were received this week.
Kewaunee County Public Health Director Cindy Kinnard said the department received just 20 doses from the state this week, leading to about 200 canceled appointments.
However, the positive news is that the seven-day positivity rate was nearly halved in each county over the past week, although they're still above an acceptable number. That figure 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.
Kewaunee County's rate of positive tests from Jan. 26 to Feb. 2 was 19.4% after running above the one-in-three mark the three previous weeks: 37.3% for the week ending Jan. 25, 35.4% and 35.5% the two prior weeks. That's based on 53 positive tests, the lowest weekly number since mid-September, from 273 total results, according to Kewaunee County Public Health Department figures.
The positivity rate in Door County from Jan. 26 to Feb. 2 was 11.5%, compared to 22.7% for the week ending on Jan. 25 and rates of more than one-in-three (34.3%, 33.2% and 33.7%) the three previous weeks. The county health department reported 29 positives from 252 tests over that time.
Both counties' positivity rates for the week also were below that state rate of 22.6%.
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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, also plummeted for the past seven days.
According to the state health department, Kewaunee County's positives-per-100,000 number was 201 between Jan. 26 and Feb. 2, after it was 339 on Jan. 25 and 432 on Jan. 11. And after the county had the fourth-highest figure each of the past two weeks among the state's 72 counties, this week's number is 14th-most as case numbers continue to fall across the state. Vilas County saw 415 positives per 100,000 in that time, and La Crosse County was the only other one above 300, with 302.
And Door County's positives-per-100,000 number for the past week is 94, 62nd-highest in the state. That compares to 174 for the week ending Jan. 25 and 359 on Jan. 18, the third-highest figure that week.
No deaths were reported from COVID-19 complications in either Kewaunee or Door county in the past week. That's two 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 results since testing began, making the cumulative positivity rate 15.1%, a significant drop from 16.2% as of Jan. 25 given the time span and number of tests and remaining below the cumulative state average of 17.7%.
One hundred and ninety-one people are considered as probable cases, those 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.
One of every 10.8 Door County residents now has tested positive at some time, compared to one in 11 on Jan. 25. There are 157 cases active as of Tuesday, a decrease of 102 in the past week, while 2,370 cases have recovered. One person was hospitalized with virus complications in the past week.
Kewaunee County's cumulative total is 2,473 positive tests from 10,999 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. So far, 2,385 cases have recovered, and 54 cases in the county are active, compared to 84 a week ago. One person is hospitalized with virus complications, one less than the week before.
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: Vaccines for Door, Kewaunee counties in short supply, but positive rates tumble