RACINE COUNTY – After an initial decline in the number of new COVID-19 virus cases earlier this month, Racine County reported 883 additional cases and 25 deaths during the past week.
In its weekly COVID-19 update on Monday, county officials reported that 344 of the new cases came from the areas covered by the City of Racine Health Department and 523 new cases from communities covered by the Central Racine County Health Department. The county has reported 14,756 confirmed cases and 222 deaths since March.
Racine County’s most recent peak in positive COVID-19 tests occurred the week of Nov. 13. The county’s disease transmission status dropped from “critically high” to “very high” about Dec. 1. On a statewide basis, more than 1,400 residents are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, with more than 20 percent requiring intensive care.
County officials announced Monday that both health departments are working with the Wisconsin National Guard (WNG) to arrange more drive-through COVID-19 testing opportunities. The most recent WNG drive-through testing schedule has ended.
Residents who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms have been in close contact with someone sick with COVID-19 or who recently attended gatherings are encouraged to get tested by contacting their health care provider or by visiting: http://www.dhs.gov/covid-19community-testing.htm
COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Wisconsin
Almost 50,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine started making their way from Germany, but only enough for one of a two-dose series. However, the Center for Disease Control has reserved more doses to complete the second dose, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
Eight hubs in all seven Healthcare Emergency Readiness Regions will receive the doses, which require ultra-cold temperatures. But the exact location of the hubs has not been disclosed for security reasons.
“As you know, this is a precious vaccine,” Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk, Wisconsin Department of Health Services, said. “We do not want to create any security risks, we’ve been in contact with the Department of Homeland Security, and that is their counsel to us as well, is, the less we talk about where the vaccine is, the more secure it will be.”
State health officials expect additional shipments over the coming weeks and months as more supply becomes available. The rollout plan calls for those additional doses to go to remaining healthcare workers and people in long-term care facilities. Other populations will then receive the vaccinations. Ultimately, it could be months before the general population can get the vaccine.
“Since the early days in the pandemic, we have been planning and preparing for the arrival of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine,” said Gov. Evers. “I fully trust in the expertise of our scientists, researchers, and public health experts who are guiding our planning, preparation, and distribution. They have put a lot of effort into ensuring that the vaccine infrastructure and clinics are ready for the successful rollout of our Wisconsin COVID-19 Vaccine Program.”
How officials decided to roll out vaccine program
State officials received guidance from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee (SDMAC) in deciding how to distribute the vaccine. As the supply increases, more healthcare workers will receive the vaccine.
“DHS is working to ensure the equitable and transparent distribution of the vaccine. As more vaccine becomes available and more COVID-19 vaccines are approved by the FDA, the ACIP and SDMAC committees will expand its recommendations to include other groups, such as essential workers, adults with high-risk health conditions, and those 65 and older,” according to a press release by DHS.
Racine County health officials are working with local partners to prepare for the arrival of the vaccines.
“Local officials are urging residents to remain patient and continue to follow all public health measures to slow further COVID-19 transmission until the vaccine is widely distributed,” said Mark Schaaf, a spokesperson for Racine County.