Registered nurse Kaelyn Duesterbeck waits with testing materials in hand as a vehicle pulls into a drive-through COVID-19 testing facility at Mercyhealth North in Janesville.

Rock County reported three more deaths caused by COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the county’s death count to 32.

The new reported deaths occurred Sept. 6, 8 and 13, according to the state Department of Health Services.

The disease has caused six deaths since Sept. 3. The county had gone more than one month without any deaths before the uptick in early September, according to state data.

The average age of those who have died is 70.9 years old, down slightly from the last reported average age of 71.4 years old, according to county data.

Of those who died, 72% have been older than 60.

Local health officials have said they are having trouble pinpointing why numbers took a negative turn in September.

Contact tracers contact every person who tests positive for the novel coronavirus, but many are not “forthcoming” about their recent activities and habits, health department spokeswoman Jessica Turner said in an email to The Gazette.

Factors that could be driving recent increases, Turner said, include:

  • Schools and universities reopening.
  • People traveling to other locations or out of state.
  • More people returning to their workplaces.
  • More people seeking in-person services.
  • People attending gatherings with family and friends.
  • Limited adherence to social-distancing and mask-wearing guidance.

Statewide, the acceleration of COVID-19 cases has been driven mostly by people ages 18 to 24, Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer for the state Bureau of Communicable Diseases, said in a statement Wednesday.

The young adult age group has the highest infection rate of all age groups statewide at 3,617 per 100,000 people, according to state data.

Rock County has 334 active and confirmed cases of COVID-19. That’s up by nearly 200 from one month ago, when there were 137 active cases, according to county health data.

The county has seen a total of 2,091 cases since the pandemic reached the area in March.

Of Rock County cases, 21% have been in people ages 15 to 24, according to county data.

That percentage increased in the past week from 19%. The young adult age group continues to pull ahead locally with infections, compared to earlier in the pandemic when age groups were largely even with the exception of the county’s youngest and oldest.

The virus spreads easily because of the length of time a person is contagious, roughly two weeks, Turner said.

A person can spread the virus with mild or no symptoms, Turner said.

“We need community members to continue taking precautions and making a conscious effort to practice the necessary measures to prevent the spread,” Turner said.

Nine people are hospitalized with the disease in Rock County hospitals. Of all cases, 9% have been hospitalized, according to county data.