Is the spread of COVID-19 stabilizing?

MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) – There are growing indications that the decline in COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin is leveling off. The Department of Health Services (DHS) says 464 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed by test results in the past day. The 7-day average of new cases fell slightly from 408 to 402 cases per day, closer to that 400 mark. Wisconsin has not averaged less than 400 cases per day since late July (that month , the 7-day average fell to 61 cases per day before rising again after the July 4 holiday). But the difference of 6 cases is the smallest daily change in the moving average since last August.

DHS also reports that the spread of the virus remains high in 68 counties. It is very high in one county – Buffalo County, in the west of the state – compared to 6 counties rated “very high” a week ago. For the first time in months, the gap has fallen to “average” levels in some counties – Rusk, Walworth and Washington. More importantly, DHS says the majority of counties in Wisconsin have seen no significant change in case counts from two weeks ago, more than 40 counties. It should also be noted that no county has recorded an increase in cases. The 20 counties we track in WBAY’s viewing area were nearly evenly split:

No significant change: Porte, Florence, Fond du Lac, Forest, Green Lake, Kewaunee, Langlade, Menominee, Oconto, Shawano, Sheboygan

Contraction: Brown, Calumet, Dodge, Manitowoc, Marinette, Outagamie, Waupaca, Waushara, Winnebago

The percentage of positive tests may also stabilize. After two days at 3.2%, the positivity rate dropped by a tenth to 3.1%, approaching that magic number we heard at the start of the pandemic when scientists thought that a positivity rate below 3% showed that the spread of the virus was becoming manageable. Managing it still requires all the mitigation efforts we’ve heard about for months and years: get vaccinated or vaccinated, maintain social distancing, wear masks when indoors with people outside your household and wash your hands more often or use sanitizer.

Thirty-seven deaths from COVID-19 have been reported to DHS since Wednesday’s report. DHS says 30 of these people died more than a month ago, so they are not counted in the 7-day average of recent deaths, which appears to have capped at 9 deaths per day. Fond du Lac County reported 3 of the 37 deaths, Calumet and Dodge counties each reported 2, and deaths were also reported by Door, Langlade, Outagamie, Shawano and Waupaca counties. The number of deaths in Sheboygan County has been revised. County numbers are listed at the end of this article.

The average 7-day hospitalization has dropped. Forty-seven people have been hospitalized in the past 24 hours, which brings the average, according to our estimate, to 37 admissions per day. This is the first time Wisconsin has averaged fewer than 40 new hospitalizations for COVID-19 since July 26 of last year. However, the death rate rose slightly this week to 4.27% of all cases. Consider that today’s hospitalizations equaled about 10% of new cases as we look back at the past two weeks.

There are currently 316 COVID-19 patients at 138 hospitals in Wisconsin. Sixty of them are in intensive care, according to the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA). This represents 2 fewer patients in intensive care and 29 fewer COVID-19 patients in hospitals, as discharges and deaths exceeded new admissions. This is the fewest COVID-19 patients since August 2 last year.

Hospitals in the Northeast health region have 44 patients, as of yesterday, including 10 in intensive care, 1 more than Wednesday.

Fox Valley hospitals have 16 COVID-19 patients, 4 fewer than yesterday, and are still treating 1 patient in intensive care.

Vaccination rates remain largely unchanged: 64.0% of the state’s population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 60.5% of Wisconsin residents have completed their vaccine series. Wisconsin residents receiving a booster shot are up a tenth to 33.0%, or nearly a third of the state’s population (children under 16 are not eligible for shots reminder).

Sheboygan County has reached 60% of its population completing its vaccination series, and the Northeast Health Care Region is on the verge of 60% of residents in 7 counties considered fully vaccinated.

Thursday vaccinations by age group (and change since last report)

  • 5 to 11: 26.7% received vaccine (+0.0)/23.5% completed vaccinations (+0.1)
  • 12 to 17: 60.9% received the vaccine (+0.0) / 57.1% completed the vaccinations (+0.0)
  • 18 to 24: 59.7% received the vaccine (+0.0) / 54.0% completed the vaccinations (+0.0)
  • 25 to 34: 63.8% received the vaccine (+0.0) / 59.0% completed the vaccinations (+0.0)
  • 35 to 44: 69.0% received the vaccine (+0.0) / 65.4% completed the vaccinations (+0.1)
  • 45 to 54: 71.5% received the vaccine (+0.0) / 68.5% completed the vaccinations (+0.1)
  • 55 to 64: 78.0% received the vaccine (+0.0) / 75.3% completed the vaccinations (+0.1)
  • 65 and over: 85.6% received the vaccine (+0.0) / 82.4% completed the vaccinations (+0.0)

Thursday vaccinations by county population (and change since last report)

County (Population)
(Health region)
% Population
with at least 1 dose
% Population
finished series
Brown (264 542) (NE) 65.5% (+0.1) 62.5%
Calumet (50 089) (VF) 56.8% 54.5%
Dodge (87,839) 52.4% 50.0%
Gate (27,668) (NE) 78.5% 74.2%
Florence (4,295) (NE) 52.5% 49.9%
Fond du Lac (103,403) (SE) 55.7% 53.0%
Forest (9,004) 52.7% 49.8%
Green Lake (18,913) (VF) 57.3% 54.5% (+0.1)
Kewaunee (20,434) (NE) 52.5% 50.8%
Langlade (19,189) 53.8% 51.5%
Manitowoc (78,981) (NE) 60.4% 58.0%
Marinette (40,350) (NE) 53.2% 50.8%
Menominee (4,556) (FV) 80.1% 76.2% (-0.1)
Oconto (37,930) (NE) 52.8% 50.9%
Outagamy (187,885) (FV) 64.1% 61.2% (+0.1)
Shawano (40 899) (VF) 47.7% 45.9% (+0.1)
Sheboygan (115,340) (ES) 62.8% (+0.1) 60.0%
Waupaca (50,990) (FV) 55.4% 53.3%
Waushara (24 443) (VF) 45.9% 43.8%
Winnebago (171,907) (FV) 62.1% 59.0%
NORTHEAST REGION (474 ​​200) (NE) 297,335 (62.7%, +0.1) 284,373 (59.9%)
FOX VALLEY AREA (549 682) (FV) 329,187 (59.9%) 314,170 (57.1%)
WISCONSIN (5,822,434) 3,732,820 (64.0%) 3,530,651 (60.5%)

To find free COVID-19 vaccination sites near you, text your postal code to 438829. Visit wbay.com/vaccine for a list of health care organizations offering vaccines.

COUNTY CASE AND DEATH TOTALS THURSDAY* (bold characters indicates a change in the number of cases or deaths since the last report) **

  • Brown – 69,738 cases (+13) (388 deaths)
  • Calumet- 11,467 cases (+4) (95 deaths) (+2)
  • Dickinson (Mich.)* – 4,982 cases (85 deaths)
  • Dodge – 24,270 cases (+2) (275 deaths) (+2)
  • Gate – 6,555 cases (+2) (54 deaths) (+1)
  • Florence – 808 cases (+1) (15 deaths)
  • Fond du Lac – 29,272 cases (+12) (231 deaths) (+3)
  • Forest – 2,425 cases (46 deaths)
  • Gogebic (Mich.)* – 2,717 cases (39 deaths)
  • Lac Vert – 4,166 cases (+2) (51 deaths)
  • Iron (Mich.)* – 2,298 cases (+0) (70 deaths)
  • Kewaunee – 4,544 cases (+1) (40 deaths)
  • Langlade – 4,858 cases (+2) (64 deaths) (+1)
  • Manitowoc – 17,206 cases (+5) (154 deaths)
  • Marinette – 9,616 cases (+7) (98 deaths)
  • Menominee (Mich.)* – 3,865 cases (60 deaths)
  • Menominee – 1,837 (13 deaths)
  • Oconto – 9,290 cases (+1) (88 deaths)
  • Outagamy – 42,176 cases (+7) (329 deaths) (+1)
  • Shawano – 9,705 cases (+3) (123 deaths) (+1)
  • Sheboygan – 29,279 cases (+2) (257 deaths) (revised deaths -1 per state)
  • Waupaca – 11,264 cases (+4) (193 deaths) (+1)
  • Waushara – 4,961 cases (+2) (67 deaths)
  • Winnebago – 43,569 cases (+11) (318 deaths)

* You can find cases and deaths for all 72 Wisconsin counties on the DHS County Data Website. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin Hospital Association release updates Monday through Friday. The 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. Wisconsin DHS reports cases from all health departments within a county, including tribal, municipal, and county health departments; county websites may not. Additionally, public health departments update their data at various times, while DHS freezes the numbers it receives at the same time each day to compile the afternoon report.

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Lillian L. Pena