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Northwoods COVID-19 cases remain high, statewide case numbers start to drop

WI Department of Health Services

Statewide COVID-19 cases are slowly starting to trend down.

This latest surge appears to have peaked on September 20th when the state was averaging more than 3,000 cases per day.

Now it’s averaging about 1,800 new COVID cases a day, but that downward trend is not yet being seen in the Northwoods.

Right now, the Northwoods is experiencing high sustained levels of COVID-19 activity.

Langlade, Lincoln, and Forest Counties have dropped down from the “critically high” levels of COVID-19 activity, but all other counties in the north central region are still at the “very high” level.

This means they’re averaging more than 350 new cases per 100,000 people.

“We’re holding steady. We might have seen a little bit of drop this last week, but our curve still remains relatively consistent,” said Linda Conlon, Oneida County Health Department Director.

COVID cases in those 19 and younger are making up the largest percentage of cases for Oneida County in the last two weeks.

Conlon said while most age groups make up about 11% of the new cases, 10-to 19-year-olds make up double that amount.

“10- to 19-year-olds is at 22% so it’s quite a difference between our age groups. We are definitely seeing an impact with the younger population and the positive cases we’re seeing in that population,” said Conlon.

Conlon said kids and teens are getting sick from the virus, but for the most part have not needed hospitalization.

According to Department of Health Services Data, there’s been no significant change in hospitalizations in the North central region in the last two weeks.

All hospitals are reporting their ICUs at peak or near peak.

This month, Lincoln, Price, Oneida, and Vilas Counties have each reported more deaths due to COVID-19.

The best way to prevent severe symptoms and death from COVID is get vaccinated.

Booster shots & third doses

Booster and third doses of the COVID-19 vaccines are now available to certain people.

The CDC and FDA has approved a third dose of the mRNA vaccines for people who are immunocompromised.

The third dose is different from the booster shot.

That shot is available to any 65 and older or people 18 and older in a high-risk group.

High risk groups are people with a medical condition that puts them at higher risk for a severe case or they work in place that would make them more likely to get COVID. See below for a complete list.

“We really encourage people to look at that prior to trying to sign up for your third dose cause many people that have signed up for the third dose actually don’t qualify. They qualify for a booster dose,” said Conlon.

The Oneida County Health Department is holding booster dose clinics at Grace Foursquare Church. The clinic is being held Friday and Saturday.

You can schedule an appointment here.

“We have a lot of calls, and we are seeing people who want to get the booster dose. It will likely be half the amount of people that received their initial series because not everyone is going to qualify,” said Conlon.

Aspirus and Marshfield Clinic as well as the Iron Mountain VA Medical Center are offering booster shots.

Scheduling booster shot appointments

Aspirus: The best way to schedule appointments for COVID-19 booster shots through Aspirus is via the MyAspirus app or patient portal at myaspirus.org. Appointments are also availabl by calling the Aspirus COVID-19 Call Center at 844-568-0701 or 715-843-1454.

Marshfield Clinic: You’re asked to fill out an online form here. Marshfield will then be in contact with you regarding an appointment.

Iron Mountain VA Medical Center:

Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center and its Community-based Outpatient Clinics will have scheduled vaccine clinics on the following dates and local times:

  • Iron Mountain (main facility) – November 6, 8a.m. – 4p.m.
  • Sault Ste. Marie – November 12, 10a.m. – 2p.m.
  • Rhinelander, Wisconsin – November 13, 8a.m. – 4p.m.
  • Marquette – November 13, 8a.m. – 4p.m.
  • Menominee – November 19, 8a.m. – 12p.m.
  • Hancock – November 20, 8a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Manistique – November 23, 9a.m. – 2p.m.
  • Ironwood – November 26, 8a.m. – 12p.m.
  • Gladstone – November 26, 9a.m. – 2p.m.

Veterans can be scheduled for a vaccine booster by calling 906-774-3300 ext. 33115 weekdays between the hours of 8a.m. and 4:30p.m. Everyone is asked to bring the record of their completed round of initial doses.

Qualifying for booster shots

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) recommends people who received an mRNA vaccine initially and are in the following populations receive a booster dose at least six months after receiving their second mRNA vaccine in order to further strengthen their immunity:

  • People 65 years and older
  • All residents in long-term care
  • People ages 18 and older with certain underlying medical conditions:
    • Cancer
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • Chronic lung diseases, including COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma (moderate-to-severe), interstitial lung disease, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary hypertension
    • Dementia or other neurological conditions
    • Diabetes (type 1 or type 2)
    • Down syndrome
    • Heart conditions (such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies or hypertension)
    • HIV infection
    • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system)
    • Liver disease
    • Overweight and obesity
    • Pregnancy
    • Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
    • Smoking, current or former
    • Solid organ or blood stem cell transplant
    • Stroke or cerebrovascular disease, which affects blood flow to the brain
    • Substance use disorders
  • People ages 18 and older who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of their job or institutional settings. Occupations at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission include front line essential workers and health care workers:
    • First responders (health care workers, firefighters, police, staff at congregate care facilities)
    • Education staff (teachers, support staff, childcare workers)
    • Food and agriculture workers
    • Manufacturing workers
    • Corrections workers
    • U.S. Postal Service workers
    • Public transit workers
    • Grocery store workers
    • This list could be updated in the future
  • People who received a dose of J & J vaccine at least two months ago may receive a Moderna booster.
Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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