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COVID-19 infection rates spike in Douglas County

Two counties in Northwestern Wisconsin have critically high case burdens, DHS data shows.

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A model of the novel coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China in late 2019. U.S. health officials have stated that COVID-19 is expected to become a significant public health concern in the United States. (Illustration courtesy of Centers for Disease Control)
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Douglas County has been experiencing a spike in new COVID-19 cases over the last week, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported Wednesday, Nov. 3.

More than twice as many new cases were reported in Douglas County last week over the previous week, prompting Superior and Douglas County officials to urge government employees to wear a mask when working with the public or in close proximity to others.

"The delta variant spreads very quickly, putting more people at risk for poor health outcomes," said Kathy Ronchi, Douglas County public health officer. "We see many outbreaks in families and in group settings with multiple people becoming ill within a day or two of exposure."

A large number of those new cases were among vaccinated people, but they are experiencing shorter, less severe illness, Ronchi said. She said it's a good time to consider getting a booster vaccine, especially for people at high risk.

"The prevention strategies have not changed, but I think people need to be reminded to be mindful of who they are spending time with and who potentially is being put at risk if they were to be spreading the disease," Ronchi said. "And please stay home when sick. So many of the case interviews reveal the person was symptomatic for a day or two before considering testing and were around many people unmasked."

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The seven-day average of new cases in Wisconsin was 1,888 on Wednesday, up from 1,825 the week prior. The figure measures the average number of new cases per day over the previous week. An increase indicates the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in the state is going up, according to DHS.

Hospitalizations as a result of COVID-19 declined to 903 people, DHS reported Wednesday, down from 967 the previous week based on a rolling seven-day average.

Among the people hospitalized, 278 are being treated in intensive care units, down from 298 on Oct. 29, DHS reported.

The number of counties with critically high rates of COVID-19 remained at four for the two-week period that ended Tuesday, Nov. 2. Price and Sawyer counties in Northwestern Wisconsin fell into that category, while 65 counties have very high rates of infection.

From Oct. 20 to Nov 2, the state recorded 530.2 new cases per 100,000 people, according to DHS . Critically high rates of infection are greater than 1,000 new cases per 100,000 people. The very high category means more than 350 but less than 1,000 new cases per 100,000 people were recorded. Only Dane, Milwaukee and Rock counties reported fewer than 350 cases per 100,000 people.

Closer to home, an additional 576 Northwestern Wisconsin residents tested positive for COVID-19 over the past week, according to DHS.

They were reported as follows: 158 in Douglas County; 72 in Taylor County; 67 in Washburn County; 63 in Sawyer County; 57 in Burnett County; 52 in Price County; 38 in Rusk County; 36 in Bayfield County; 18 in Ashland County and 15 in Iron County.

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An additional 252 probable cases based on exposure and symptoms were also reported in the 10-county region, according to DHS data. Douglas County had 111 probable cases, in addition to the 158 recorded based on tests for the virus.

Statewide, an additional 13,270 new cases were reported since Oct. 27, DHS said, bringing the total to 799,184 Wednesday.

An additional 34 people died from complications related to COVID-19 statewide since Oct. 27, the data showed. Among those who died were two people in Sawyer County and one person each in Douglas and Taylor counties. Since the start of the pandemic, 8,554 Wisconsinites have died from COVID-19.

The number of negative tests in the state was 3,554,752 Wednesday, an increase of 30,684 since Oct. 27.

DHS also reports that 6,527,698 doses of vaccine have been administered as of Wednesday. A total of 3,376,370 Wisconsin residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 3,212,303 people, or 55.2% of the population, have completed the vaccine series.

Here's the breakdown in the 10-county region:

Ashland County

  • Total cases: 1,563
  • Total negative tests: 9,236
  • Deaths: 15
  • Probable deaths: 2
  • Hospitalizations: 77
  • Vaccinations: 9,848

Bayfield County

  • Total cases: 1,447
  • Total negative tests: 8,986
  • Deaths: 22
  • Probable deaths: 3
  • Hospitalizations: 86
  • Vaccinations: 10,281

Burnett County

  • Total cases: 2,107
  • Total negative tests: 8,241
  • Deaths: 31
  • Probable deaths: 1
  • Hospitalizations: 186
  • Vaccinations: 8,044

Douglas County

  • Total cases: 4,998
  • Total negative tests: 24,627
  • Deaths: 45
  • Probable deaths: 22
  • Hospitalizations: 250
  • Vaccinations: 26,438

Iron County

  • Total cases: 739
  • Total negative tests: 3,263
  • Deaths: 21
  • Probable deaths: 21
  • Hospitalizations: 60
  • Vaccinations: 3,402

Price County

  • Total cases: 1,773
  • Total negative tests: 7,161
  • Deaths: 12
  • Probable deaths: 0
  • Hospitalizations: 137
  • Vaccinations: 7,188

Rusk County

  • Total cases: 2,146
  • Total negative tests: 6,606
  • Deaths: 35
  • Probable deaths: 0
  • Hospitalizations: 169
  • Vaccinations: 5,551

Sawyer County

  • Total cases: 2,402
  • Total negative tests: 10,959
  • Deaths: 33
  • Probable deaths: 2
  • Hospitalizations: 135
  • Vaccinations: 8,925

Taylor County

  • Total cases: 2,789
  • Total negative tests: 7,977
  • Deaths: 34
  • Probable deaths: 13
  • Hospitalizations: 186
  • Vaccinations: 6,616

Washburn County

  • Total cases: 2,162
  • Total negative tests: 9,041
  • Deaths: 25
  • Probable deaths: 2
  • Hospitalizations: 161
  • Vaccinations: 9,592

Visit the Douglas County COVID-19 dashboard or Wisconsin Department of Health Services COVID-19 page for updates.

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