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Vilas County COVID-19 cases surge, health department contact tracers overwhelmed


Vilas County Health Department is reporting 27 new cases since Tuesday. There are currently 174 active cases.

A large jump in active COVID cases in Vilas County was reported by the county health department going from 26 the end of August to 164 by mid-September. Testing of 15,083 had 2,718 positive cases for a rate of 18% with county deaths rising to 49.

The high number of cases is overwhelming contact tracers in the county. The health department said they may not be able to contact positive cases and their close contacts within 24 hours of test results because of the high number they’re working through.

“We will attempt to follow-up with individuals who test positive, review isolation recommendations, and determine close contacts,” stated Laurel Dreger, Health Officer, Vilas County Public Health Department. “However, the response may be delayed more than 24 hours. That is why it is important that if you have tested positive for COVID-19, that you stay home and isolate (separate from others) immediately for a minimum of 10 days from the start of your symptoms, or the date you were tested, if you have no symptoms.”

According to Laurel Dreger most cases are in those age 50 and above, “confirmed cases of age 50 to 69 are 947 and those age 70 and above are 463,” Dreger said. “Most were not vaccinated although we did have 59 cases where they were vaccinated.”

There have been 92 cases of those nine and under, but those cases are mild “like a sore throat for a day or two.”

She added the 49 deaths, as determined by a medical examiner, surpasses the deaths here of the 1918-19 Spanish flu.

Other Vilas data indicates positive cases are slightly more for females, 1,395 (52.8%), to males, 1,241 (47%). Cases in eastern Vilas County, 1,469 were ahead of western Vilas County, 1,164. As of last week there were 13,081 residents vaccinated or 59%.

Dreger praised Northland Pines school district for implementing free testing for all students, staff, and their families available at the Eagle River elementary school. Other school districts can also have testing done at Eagle River. Most testing is available at local pharmacies.

Local healthcare system COVID Call Centers, urgent care rooms, and emergency rooms are being inundated with individuals seeking COVID-19 tests. Local healthcare systems are strongly encouraging individuals to self-schedule their COVID-19 test appointments online if they do not need additional patient care.

Quarantine Guidelines

If you or a loved one are exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should quarantine (separate from others). Exposure includes being within 6 feet of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 for at least a total of 15 minutes cumulative within a 24-hour period or have had physical touch with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Per Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 14 days is safest (and may be required in some situations) for unvaccinated individuals. This time may be lessened to 10 days (with no test if you have not developed any symptoms) or a minimum of 7 days (if a negative test is collected on day 6 or later) for those who remain without symptoms. Individuals who are released early from quarantine must be able to maintain 6 feet of physical distance from others and must wear a mask for the full 14-day quarantine period.

Fully vaccinated individuals do not need to quarantine unless they develop symptoms. It is recommended to continue to monitor for symptoms for 14 days after last contact, wear a mask indoors, and get tested 3- 5 days after exposure.

Individuals can do symptom checking and self-schedule COVID-19 testing appointments using online platforms with Aspirusand Marshfield Clinic.

You may also contact Lac Vieux Desert Health Center- Eagle River Clinic 715-337-2247 or Walgreens at 715-479-1069 (Eagle River), 715-358-7084 (Woodruff), 715-369-1079 (Rhinelander).

For COVID-19 vaccination opportunities, visit vaccine.gov.

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