COVID-19: Kewaunee County records first death in four months; cases continue surging in Door County
As the number of new cases of COVID-19 continues to increase in Kewaunee and Door counties at rates not seen since last winter — before vaccines became available — Kewaunee County reported its first COVID-19-related death in more than four months.
In the two weeks from Aug. 23 to Sept. 7, Door County Public Health Department reported 114 positive test results for COVID-19, compared to 94 over the three weeks before that. The average of 57 cases a week over the last two weeks would be the highest number of cases since 108 the week of Jan. 12 to 18.
Meanwhile, the Kewaunee County Public Health Department reported 95 positives in the two weeks from Aug. 20 to Sept. 3, compared to 99 total over the three previous weeks. The county's average of 47.5 cases per week in those two weeks also is higher than any weekly number reported since winter, when 53 positives were reported between Jan. 26 and Feb. 2.
Also spiking in the past month in Kewaunee and Door counties is the percentage of tests for COVID-19 that are positive, also known as the positivity rate. Many health departments use this figure 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.
With Kewaunee County's 95 positives coming from 279 tests in those two weeks, the positivity rate is 34%. That follows a rate of 31% for the 21 preceding days and is the highest rate since the week of Jan. 19 to 25, when a positivity rate of 37.5% followed two straight weeks at more than 35%.
Door County's 14-day positivity rate is lower because it conducted more tests in that span, 515, but the rate still rose from its previous 15.5% to 21.1%. Again, the rate is among the highest it's been in the county since 22.7% the week of Jan. 19 to 25, which followed three straight weeks of rates above 34%.
The number of cases per 100,000 people, another figure used by health organizations to gauge the spread of the virus, also shot up to figures not seen since late January: an average of 239 a week over the last two weeks in Door County and 231 a week in Kewaunee County.
As of Tuesday, 32 of Wisconsin's 72 counties reported a per-100,000 number above 200, led by Chippewa with 388 and Trempeleau at 377.
The death attributed to COVID-19 in Kewaunee County within the past two weeks is the 36th in the county since the start of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, but the first since one was reported the week of April 6 to 12, and that April death was the first in four months at the time. No COVID-19-related deaths have been reported in Door County in the past four weeks, keeping its toll at 30.
The recent surge in cases in Door and Kewaunee counties parallels the increased numbers being reported in Wisconsin, where all 72 counties currently have either a "high" or "very high" rate of COVID-19 transmission according to the the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, and across the country.
Whether locally or nationally, the increases generally are attributed to the emergence of the delta variant of the coronavirus, which spreads more quickly and easily than other variants, and a notable slowdown in people getting vaccines against the virus.
While Door County has seen 18,499 of its residents complete their vaccinations since they started in January, according to the state (66.9% of the population, second to Dane among Wisconsin counties), fewer than 6,000 have been completed since May. Kewaunee County has seen a similar slowdown, with just over 6,000 fully vaccinated residents by the start of May but only a little more than 2,700 added since, and its percentages of vaccinated residents continue to rank among the bottom 12 counties in the state.
"I cannot attribute the increase in cases to anything specific besides delta right now," Kewaunee County Health Department Director Cindy Kinnard said in an email to the Kewaunee County Star-News. "We have had small pockets of cases within certain groups, but nothing significant. As for the vaccination rate … Our rates have remained fairly slow, but steady."
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Statistics as of Sept. 7 (provided by the county and state health departments) are as follows:
Positive tests in past two weeks:
- Kewaunee County, 95
- Door County, 114
Negative tests in past three weeks:
- Kewaunee, 184
- Door, 401
14-day percentage of positive tests (positivity rate):
- Kewaunee, 34%, up from 31%
- Door, 22.1%, up from 15.5%
- Wisconsin, 8%
Total positive tests:
- Kewaunee, 2,891, one in every 7.1 residents
- Door: 2,854, one in every 10.5 residents
Total negative tests:
- Kewaunee, 10,795
- Door, 16,600
Cumulative positivity rate since testing began:
- Kewaunee, 21.1%
- Door, 14.6%
Weekly positive tests per 100,000 residents (average):
- Kewaunee, 231 (was 160)
- Door, 239 (was 100)
Deaths from COVID-19 complications:
- Kewaunee, 36, one in past two weeks
- Door, 30, none in past four weeks
Hospitalizations from the virus in past two weeks:
- Kewaunee, 3
- Door, 1
- Kewaunee, 49; was 38 as of Aug. 20
- Door, 206; was 124 as of Aug. 23
- Kewaunee, 2,806
- Door, N/A
Total vaccines given:
- Kewaunee (including other providers besides health department), 9,232 (45.2%) received at least one dose, 8,733 (42.7%) completed their cycles.
- Door (including other providers besides health department), 19,331 (69.9%) received at least one dose, second-highest percentage in state (Dane 72.6%), 18,499 (66.9%) both doses, second-most in state (Dane 69.5%)
- Wisconsin, 3,138,889 (53.9%) at least one dose, 2,953,507 (50.9%) completed
Vaccines for ages 18 and older:
- Kewaunee, 8,762 (54.6%) at least one dose, 8,318 (51.8%) completed
- Door, 18,493 (79.8%) at least one dose, 17,786 (76.8%) completed
Vaccine doses given in past two weeks:
- Kewaunee, 246 first doses, 236 completed; for adults, 214 first doses, 166 completed
- Door, 286 first doses, 228 completed; for adults, 244 first doses, 174 completed
Contact Christopher Clough at 920-741-7952, 920-562-8900 or [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: COVID-19: Kewaunee County records first death in four months; cases continue surging in Door County