COVID Cases on the Rise Again

Door County has experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases in August after a very quiet May and June. 

After reporting just 10 confirmed cases in June, and 17 in July, Door County has already confirmed 16 new cases through Aug. 16.

The surge is driven primarily by the delta variant, said Door County Public Health Manager Sue Powers. Though 17 of the 59 confirmed and probable cases reported since July 1 were among vaccinated people, all of those hospitalized have been unvaccinated, said Dr. Jim Heise, the chief medical officer at Door County Medical Center. 

Statewide, the surge is even larger. 

“The seven-day average of new cases for Wisconsin is 11 times what it was one month ago,” Powers said. 

Heise explained that the delta variant is much more contagious than the original strains of the virus. 

The viral load is a lot higher, so instead of each infected person infecting two others, a person carrying the delta variant will infect six-to-eight people. 

“If you’re not vaccinated, it’s really on you to either get vaccinated or put a mask on because you’re either going to get vaccinated or you’re going to get sick,” Heise said. 

In a Facebook Live session Monday, Heise and Powers responded to a question about whether they were passing on recommendations for masking to local school districts. Heise was blunt. 

“School districts have already gotten [our recommendations],” he said. “They’re just choosing not to listen to it.”

Though he is not concerned that a large number of children are likely to become severely ill from the virus, he noted that if they do get it, they will have to quarantine and miss class for 14 days. 

“If we’re concerned about the kids learning, we should be concerned about that,” he said. 

On the positive side, the rate of vaccinations continues to rise in Wisconsin and Door County. Wisconsin now reports that more than 50% of the total population has completed the vaccine series. 

The county administered 234 vaccine shots the week of Aug. 8, the most in any week since late June. Most of those people vaccinated are local residents, though some are summer workers from outside the county. In Door County, 78.4% adults received the vaccine as of Aug. 16, and 68.4% of the total population.

“I don’t want to keep going through this,” Powers said of the spikes. “I just hope that people get shots so we don’t have to deal with this in the fall.”

The department has picked up contact tracing again, and has expanded to twice-weekly reporting of new cases. 

Based on new evidence about the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines, the CDC now recommends that pregnant people should be vaccinated against COVID-19 if not already vaccinated.

People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised are now eligible to get a Pfizer booster shot. Booster shots for the majority of the population will likely be coming by the end of the year.

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