01STOCK_CORONAVIRUS01

Rock County reported 50 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, lifting its seven-day average to 21 new cases per day this week, a pace that is causing concern among officials at the Rock County Public Health Department.

“Compared to two weeks ago, this is a rate which is four times higher,” epidemiologist Nick Zupan said during a media briefing Thursday morning.

As of Thursday, officials said there were 10 patients in Rock County hospitals being treated for COVID-19.

“Case numbers have been steadily increasing over the past month in Rock County and Wisconsin, while increasing cases of the delta variant have been identified,” Zupan said.

More than 51% of adults have received at least one dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 48% have completed vaccination, either through a two-dose vaccine or a single-dose shot. There has been an uptick in vaccinations administered in the past week, according to county data.

Zupan said that while the tally of new cases might not seem like a lot, especially when compared to earlier points in the pandemic, it is still concerning to see such an increase over the course of a month. With the more contagious delta variant spreading, there is the possibility case counts could increase significantly, if not exponentially.

Zupan said it’s difficult to determine how many delta variant cases are in the county because very few samples have been submitted for genetic sequencing. Five have been confirmed, but based on the rapid increase in cases, many more are believed to have been caused by the variant.

Zupan said the peak of positive case activity was between October and November with more than 2,000 active cases in Rock County. As of Thursday, there were 240 active cases in Rock County.

“The concern is the delta variant is much more contagious, and we don’t want to get anywhere near where we were,” Zupan said.

Rock County reported 50 new COVID-19 cases and no deaths Thursday. The 50 is a sharp increase from 14 reported the day before. To date, a total of 16,788 cases and 185 deaths have been recorded in Rock County since the pandemic began in the first part of 2020.

Wisconsin reported a seven-day average of 1,000 new cases a day and an average of one death per day.

As of Thursday, the state reported a 7.6% test positivity rate for the week.

The CDC on July 27 updated its nationwide mask recommendations, saying people, even vaccinated ones, should wear masks in indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission. Shortly afterward, Rock County had moved into the “substantial” risk category, according to the CDC’s coronavirus data tracker website. Rock County is now rated as an area of high risk. It is one of 21 counties in Wisconsin with a “high” rating.

The Rock County Health Department is recommending everyone, including those who have been vaccinated, to wear masks in indoor settings to prevent the spread of COVID-19. On the Illinois side of the state line, Winnebago and Boone counties have initiated similar mask-wearing guidance.

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