Sunday, April 18, 2021

Wis COVID cases leveled off last week. Now can we knock them back down?

After several weeks of rising COVID cases in Wisconsin, we at least saw a plateuing in the last few days. The 7-day average declined on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Still high (and sizably higher than we were a year ago), which tells you how we have adjusted to a new normal in the COVID World. But the big difference is that deaths have also stayed low even as cases have risen in the last month. Deaths have stayed down around 5 a day, which is half of what it was in Wisconsin 12 months ago.

I think a big reason why is that vaccines are having an effect, as older Wisconsinites are now more likely to have received their doses (nearly 80% with at least 1 dose, and nearly 72% have completed their series), and have seen their rate of cases fall while most other age ranges have been seeing cases go up.

But the vaccine situation is showing wide disparities among different parts in Wisconsin, which was noticed by Madison's State Journal in an article that posted today.
Early variation in COVID-19 vaccination rates had much to do with a county’s proportion of health care workers, the first group able to get vaccine. With people 65 and older becoming eligible in late January, a county’s share of seniors has also played a large role in its overall rate, experts say.

But with everyone 16 and older approved for vaccination early this month, such factors are beginning to wane. However, a county’s racial makeup can also influence its immunization rate, given that rates statewide are significantly lower for Blacks and Hispanics, and somewhat lower for American Indians and Asians, than for whites.

As of Saturday, Taylor County had the state’s lowest vaccination rate, with 21.8% of residents receiving at least one dose, followed by Clark County, with 22.2%, and Rusk County, with 26.4%.

Door County had the highest rate, with 56.7%, followed by Bayfield County, with 53.0%, and Dane County, with 52.4%.
So we're fast approaching a situation where we might have two realities by the time we get around Memorial Day. Some places like Dane County and counties with high levels of older individuals may be largely vaccinated, but other areas might not be as cleared up, but will have as few (if not fewer) restrictions than the places where most people have gotten the shot. And it's going to be worth observing whether infections have a similar divergence.

Don't let up now, folks. Get these COVID cases back down to where we were a month ago, and keep on vaccinating, and then Summer can be a lot more available and safer for more of us.

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