01STOCK_CORONAVIRUS01

JANESVILLE

The monthly totals of reported COVID-19 infections increased sharply over the past three months, and public health officials urged people Thursday to get vaccinated to help prevent another fall and winter surge of infections and virus-related deaths.

In June, Rock County reported 80 new COVID-19 cases. The number of infections were three times higher in July when 246 were reported. Then in August, the state reported about 3.7 times more cases than that with a total of 915, according to the Rock County Public Health Department.

From June 1 to Aug. 31, 11 deaths due to COVID-19 were reported in the county.

“Overall, we have seen case activity increase rapidly at the end of July and into mid-August,” health department spokesperson Jessica Turner said. “The increase has slowed down a little in the second half of August, but we are still seeing high case activity and still fall into the CDC’s (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) high transmission category for COVID-19 spread.”

She said the current level of transmission in Rock County is “concerning” but that there was still time to slow down the spread with vaccinations before cooler fall and winter weather set in, which leads to more people gather indoors, a setting where the virus spreads more easily.

“It will be extremely important for people to continue with prevention measures including masking and distancing. Increased vaccination will also play a key role in preventing increases in COVID-19 activity,” Turner said.

Over the last seven days, 200 new cases per 100,000 residents in Rock County have been recorded by the health department. An estimated 557 cases remain active. To date, a total of 17,587 cases and 190 deaths have been reported in Rock County.

In terms of vaccinations, 61.8% of people eligible for the vaccine have received at least one dose; 60.5% of eligible people have completed vaccination, according to state Department of Health Services data.

Across Wisconsin, an average of 1,699 new cases have been reported over the last seven days, along with an average of eight deaths per day. The state’s seven-day test positivity rate is 7.7%. The seven-day average is the highest it has been in more than six months, DHS reports, as the health agency urged caution as the Labor Day weekend nears.

“COVID-19 cases are rising in Wisconsin due to the more contagious delta variant,” said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer and state epidemiologist for communicable diseases. “People who are not yet fully vaccinated continue to make up the significant majority of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. It is critical that we take action now to prevent further spread of the virus. Let’s use all of our effective prevention tools: Get vaccinated, wear masks when gathering indoors and stay home if you’re feeling sick, especially if planning get-togethers with others over the holiday weekend.”

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