The COVID-19 Delta variant is causing increasing concern for hospitals, employers and government officials across the country, particularly because new vaccinations have slowed to a crawl.
As of Tuesday, the Biden administration was considering mandating vaccinations or negative COVID-19 test results for all federal employees. The American Medical Association issued a statement supporting vaccine mandates for health care facilities.
Door County health care facilities had not mandated vaccinations for employees as of Tuesday. Brian Stephens, CEO of Door County Medical Center, said that according to the Wisconsin Hospital Association, the facility has one of the highest vaccination rates for hospitals in the state.
“Over 80% of our employees have been fully vaccinated, and 100% of our physicians and advanced practice practitioners have been vaccinated,” Stephens said. “We have obviously not mandated the vaccine, but we are very pleased with our high vaccination rates, and those levels have proven to be an effective barrier to the spread of infection among our employees. We are also still requiring masking in all patient-care areas regardless of vaccination status.”
Kelly McBride, communications specialist for Bellin Health, said that organization is following a similar path.
“We continue to evaluate the mandate option, but we prefer to encourage our employees to choose to get vaccinated to protect themselves and put our patients first,” she said.
A spokesperson for Prevea Health said that health care system is not requiring employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but they are highly encouraging it.
Several other large employers, including the Door County Government Center, the Door County YMCA and the school districts of Southern Door and Sturgeon Bay said they are not considering mandating vaccinations for staff.
In Door County, the vaccination rate has been among the highest in the state. As of Tuesday, 77% of residents ages 18 and older had received at least one dose of the vaccine, trailing only Dane and Bayfield counties, which each have 81% vaccination rates. Door County’s rate is much higher than neighboring Kewaunee (50.9%) and Brown (63.5%) counties. The statewide rate is 62.4%.
In Wisconsin, the seven-day average of confirmed COVID-19 cases rose to 419 as of July 26, up from 193 a week earlier. It was 60 on July 5. That uptick in cases has not resulted in an increase in hospitalizations in northeast Wisconsin, but many areas of the country with low vaccination rates are seeing hospitalizations surge.
Door County has reported just 21 new cases since June 1.