JVG_210113_COVID

A collected sample is dropped into a medical bag as members of the Wisconsin National Guard medical team assist with free COVID-19 drive-thru testing at Blackhawk Technical College.

The number of active and confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Rock County is the lowest it has been since Oct. 11, but severe cases of the disease remain prevalent.

There were 896 active and confirmed cases of the disease in Rock County on Tuesday, down 26 from 922 on Monday, according to data from the Rock County Public Health Department.

But the number of hospitalizations reported Tuesday remained the highest single-day total since Dec. 23 at 35, the same number reported Monday.

COVID-19 deaths rose from 122 to 125 on Tuesday. The county has reported 10 COVID-19 deaths in the first 12 days of 2021, according to county data.

On Tuesday, the county reported 43% of test results returned Tuesday were positive, more than eight times the county’s goal of a 5% positivity rate averaged over 14 days.

County health officials have said positivity rate is a key indicator in monitoring COVID-19 activity in the county.

The Gazette was unable to reach representatives from the health department for comment regarding COVID-19 cases by press time.

Vaccines

Mercyhealth announced Tuesday it began giving some of its health care workers their second doses of COVID-19 vaccine, according to a news release.

Both approved COVID-19 vaccines, one produced by Pfizer and the other by Moderna, require second doses 21 and 28 days after initial doses, respectively. Recipients are not considered protected from the disease until after receiving second doses.

Rock County Public Health Department data shows 4,605 residents had received one dose of vaccine and 536 had received two doses as of Tuesday morning.

That means roughly 3% of Rock County’s population has received at least one vaccine dose, based on health department data and population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Wisconsin is still working through its 1A priority phase of vaccine distribution, which consists of health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

The county has not publicly disclosed how many people are considered in priority group 1A in Rock County.

There are 4,350 healthcare practitioners and technical occupation workers and 2,590 health care support workers in Rock County, according to a 2019 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The county houses 210 firefighters and 270 police officers, according to the report.

Firefighters and law enforcement officers have begun receiving vaccines from local providers.

When asked how many nursing homes have received vaccines, a representative from the health department said in an email to The Gazette: “all of the skilled nursing facilities that we are in communication with have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.”

The representative did not specify how many facilities that includes.

On average, there are 527 residents living in Rock County nursing homes per day across the 11 facilities the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services deems as nursing homes in Rock County, according to a database kept by the organization.

This number does not include all long-term care facilities in the county because some facilities do not fall under the category of nursing home.

A state committee has been meeting this week to discuss who will qualify for vaccines in the 1B phase of distribution.

The 1B phase, according to a report from WisPolitics, is expected to encompass more people than phase 1A and could include:

  • People over the age of 70.
  • Essential workers including first responders, educators, child care workers and non-frontline health care workers.
  • Mink farmers.
  • Congregate living residents and staff.

Congregate living facilities could include employer-based housing, housing for people with disabilities, shelters, transitional housing and jails.

The county has created a vaccine advisory group to make local decisions on vaccine administration and distribution.

The county group has not made any public announcements or released any determinations.

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