COVID-19 in Door, Kewaunee counties: New group in Kewaunee County gets OK for vaccine; positivity rates rise
Kewaunee County began vaccinating a new eligible demographic of people this week, and Door County residents are receiving their COVID-19 vaccines at a higher rate than residents of most other counties.
But that comes after a week that saw the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests across seven days in each county — one of the key metrics used by many health officials to determine how well communities are fighting the spread of the virus — again rise to levels well above the state rate.
The positivity rate in Kewaunee County from March 2 to 8 was 10.1% (10 positive tests for the virus from 99 total results), compared to 6.6% the week before and 4.5% from Feb. 16 to 22, the lowest rate seen in the county since last fall.
Door County's positivity rate also rose back into double digits, from 8.9% the last week of February to 11.4% the first week of March (10 positives from 88 tests). 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.
However, those seven-day positivity rates are still well below what each county was reporting less than two months ago, when they were about or above 33% for three weeks in January.
The seven-day rate for Wisconsin remained steady at 2.2%, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
Meanwhile, the Kewaunee County Public Health Department began administering doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this week to people enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs. This was the next demographic on the state's priority list of groups within Phase 1B of the vaccine rollout, following school and child care workers, to whom the county began giving shots last week.
They join groups who have been eligible and receiving vaccines, such as frontline health care workers (including those in dental and eye clinics), frontline public safety personnel (law enforcement officers, firefighters, first responders), residents in long-term or community-based residential facilities, and people age 65 and older.
The health department will continue to contact eligible individuals who are in these groups and on waiting lists for the vaccine when doses, which are in short supply, are available. Because of limited supplies being sent to Kewaunee County, those who are eligible but have yet to be scheduled for their shots are encouraged to contact their health care providers, the health department said.
The Door County Health and Human Services Department is continuing to prioritize vaccinations for the ages 65 and older group. It announced last week that the state will provide a separate allocation of the COVID-19 vaccine to the county for school and child care workers starting March 15, and the health department is working with local schools and child care agencies to schedule appointments.
Next on the state's priority rankings are some essential workers who deal with the public (such as 911 operators, public transit and grocery/convenience store workers), non-frontline essential health care staff, and staff and residents of congregate living settings.
A date hasn't been set for vaccinations to begin for those classified in Phase 1C, which is likely to include adults with chronic or underlying health conditions and essential workers who haven't yet been eligible for the shots. Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary for the state Department of Health Services, said Monday that she expects to announce a rollout date for those with pre-existing health conditions by the end of this week as the state is facing growing criticism for delaying eligibility for that group, which is considered more vulnerable to serious health complications from the virus.
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Counties across the state are not yet receiving all the vaccine doses they're requesting because of supply shortages, which has been the case since the vaccines became available. All doses come from the federal government, and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services distributes them.
Last week's approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine brings hope that the supply shortages will ease. That vaccine requires just one dose, while the two vaccines now in use, from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, require two doses and stricter handling conditions. But it's not yet known exactly how the J&J vaccine might affect supplies and scheduling in Door and Kewaunee counties, officials said, because the state hasn't announced how and when it will distribute the vaccine locally.
However, although the Door County health department hasn't yet expanded its eligibility to include educators and child care staff, the county (including vaccines given by Door County Medical Center and participating pharmacies) has been able to administer at least first doses to 7,124 people, more than one-quarter of its population (25.7%), while 4,237 people (15.3%) have received both doses. Only four other of Wisconsin's 72 counties have seen a higher percentage of their residents receive first doses thus far, with nine counties recording a higher percentage for both doses, according to the state health department.
So far, 3,469 Kewaunee County residents (17% of the population) have received at least one dose, while 2,045 (10%) have received both doses. Across the state, 18.4% of the population (1,072,650) has received at least one dose, 10.4% (603,600) both doses.
The Kewaunee County and Door County health departments continue to ask people who signed up for vaccines through the health departments but received their vaccines elsewhere (from a health care provider or pharmacy) to inform their health departments they no longer need to be on a waiting list to make scheduling more efficient.
Statistics as of Monday, March 8 (provided by the county and state health departments) are as follows:
Positive tests in past week (March 2-8):
- Kewaunee County, 10
- Door County, 10
Negative tests in past week:
- Kewaunee, 89
- Door, 78
Seven-day percentage of positive tests (positivity rate):
- Kewaunee, 10.1% (6.6% the week before)
- Door, 11.4% (was 8.9%)
- Wisconsin, 2.2%
Cumulative positivity rate since testing began:
- Kewaunee, 21.9%
- Door, 15%
Deaths from COVID-19 complications:
- Kewaunee, 34, none in past seven weeks
- Door, 20, one in past week
Hospitalizations from the virus in past week:
- Kewaunee, 1
- Door, 1
- Kewaunee, 10 (was 7 as of March 1);
- Door, 14 (was 15)
- Kewaunee, 2,496
- Door, 2,565
Vaccines given in past week:
- Kewaunee, 366 first doses, 210 second doses
- Door, 256 first doses, 241 second doses
Total vaccines given:
- Kewaunee, 3,469 (17% of population) received at least one dose, 2,045 (10%) both doses
- Door (including other providers besides health department), 7,124 (25.7%) received at least one dose, 4,237 (15.3%) both doses
- Wisconsin, 1,072,650 (18.4%) at least one dose, 603,600 (10.4%) both
Vaccines requested and received for this week:
- Kewaunee, 500 requested, 372 received
- Door, 1,200 requested, 450 received (270 first doses, 180 second doses)
People on waiting list:
- Kewaunee, 600
- Door, 317
Contact Christopher Clough at 920-741-7952, 920-562-8900 or [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: COVID-19 in Door, Kewaunee counties: New group in Kewaunee County gets OK for vaccine; positivity rates rise