Local Covid-19

Wisconsin DHS

Local and Tribal public health departments in the Northwoods are urging people to follow COVID-19 health guidelines. 14 health departments signed the message including, Oneida, Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Vilas, Iron, and Price County Health Officers.

It calls for people to keep wearing masks, physically distance, wash your hands, avoid large gatherings, and get vaccinated.

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In the last year and a half, 6,850 Wisconsinites have died because of COVID-19. 248 of those deaths are people from the Northwoods.

“For the nurses who knew their faces were the last their patients would see. Their hands the last they would hold. For our healthcare professionals on the frontline of this pandemic the numbers are all too real. This past year, over a year, has been a year of loss,” said Julie Willems Van Dijk, Department of Health Services Deputy Director.

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On a Thursday morning at the Lake of the Torches Casino Resort in Lac du Flambeau, dozens of people sit at flashing slot machines and game tables.

Down the hall from the humming game room, another table is set up, but this one is not for games.

Instead, it's stocked with piles of paperwork and pens. Two volunteers sit behind the table, ready to register anyone who wants a COVID-19 vaccine.

But unlike the game room just a few feet away, their table doesn’t have many visitors.

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Michigan is hanging tight to its position as a national hotspot for COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations at a time when more than half the U.S. adult population has been vaccinated and other states have seen the virus diminish substantially.

Medical professionals point to more contagious variants, the state's pullback on restrictions to limit crowds and COVID fatigue as reasons for the surge, especially in rural, northern parts of the state that had largely avoided severe outbreaks.

Ron Johnson Facebook

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, of Wisconsin, questioned the need for widespread COVID-19 vaccinations, saying in a radio interview “what do you care if your neighbor has one or not?” Johnson, who has no medical expertise or background, made the comments Thursday during an interview with conservative talk radio host Vicki McKenna. Contrary to what medical experts advise, Johnson has said he doesn’t need to be vaccinated because he had COVID-19 in the fall. He went further on Thursday, questioning why anyone would get vaccinated or worry about why others have not.

Wisconsin DHS

Wisconsin seems to be in a bit of a holding pattern when it comes to COVID-19 cases and vaccinations.

The 7-day average of new cases has dropped a bit from a slight peak last week.

We’re now averaging 641 cases a day.

Wisconsin hasn’t experienced the jump in cases like Michigan saw with the variant cases increasing.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ryan Westergaard says we’re by no means out of the woods yet.

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Gov. Tony Evers says Wisconsin schools will receive more than $175 million in federal funding to pay for school-based COVID-19 testing for teachers, students and staff.

The money announced Tuesday is coming to Wisconsin as part of $10 billion the U.S. Department of Health Services announced in March it was targeting to help schools reopen across the country.

The tests would be voluntary.

Concerns about new coronavirus variants more easily infecting people under age 16, who are not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, have increased as case counts have gone up.

Erin Gottsacker/WXPR

As the 2020-2021 school year nears an end, many schools across the country have grappled with an unusual year.

Some students spent their year learning through a screen. Others sat at desks spaced six feet apart.

Most of these COVID-19 precautions won’t be missed, but this one that might be.

At noon on Friday at the Lac du Flambeau Youth Center, clusters of students bend over bowls of wild rice and pages of schoolwork.

“I come here and do everything I missed from the last week,” said Tristan Poupart, a tribal student at Lakeland Union High School

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration has extended workplace coronavirus restrictions for an additional six months.

 

That includes a requirement that Michigan employers prohibit office work to the extent that employees’ jobs can feasibly be done remotely.

 

The emergency rules could be modified or withdrawn before they expire in mid-October.

 

An advisory group assessing a phased return to offices may make recommendations to the governor as soon as next week.

 

Iron Mountain VA Medical Center

 

Oneida County Health Department Director Linda Conlon is proud of the vaccination effort in the county.

Nearly 45% of residents have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine which is above the state average of 37%.

“We’re pretty happy about that,” said Conlon.

She also impressed with the 65 and older age group getting nearly 83% vaccinated.

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The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Michigan should “close things down” to help address surging coronavirus infections.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky's statement Monday comes as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer instead urges people to voluntarily restrict certain activities.

Whitmer wants the federal government to send additional doses to the state, but the administration of President Joe Biden has stuck with allocating proportionally by population.

Walensky says shutting things down would help flatten the curve.

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has vowed to keep pushing the White House for more COVID-19 vaccines as the state experiences a spike in cases.

The Democrat on Sunday told CBS’ “Face The Nation” that she plans to work with the White House but wants to do everything she can to get additional vaccine doses.

President Joe Biden has said Washington will give Michigan more federal resources to support vaccinations and testing, but not additional vaccines.

The state has the highest rate of new coronavirus infections in the U.S.

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Wisconsin health officials report nearly a quarter of the state’s population has completed COVID-19 vaccination.

Over 1.4 million people — making up 24.3% of the state’s population — have been completely vaccinated by either receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

However, daily case counts have also been on the rise.

Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by 34%, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers.

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Although the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned Gov. Evers statewide mask mandate, face coverings are still required at many stores, like Aldi, Pick 'n Save and Kohl’s.

One place they’re not required though – several local public schools.

Laona, Three Lakes and Crandon school districts all stopped requiring masks following the state Supreme Court ruling.

Now wearing a face covering in their classrooms is optional.

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Wisconsin celebrated significant vaccine milestones this week.

Vaccinators have administered over 3 million COVID-19 shots in the state.

That means over a third of Wisconsin residents have received at least one dose of COVID vaccine and 20 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.

But even as more people get vaccinated, cases of COVID-19 are rising across the state.

Wisconsin Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said that’s largely because of COVID variants.

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