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Another COVID spike in Brown County

BROWN COUNTY — The COVID case counts in Brown County saw a dramatic spike in August, with over 180 labs confirmed cases and two deaths.

Brown County Public Health reported that the most recent COVID-related deaths occurred in the last week. These two deaths were the first COVID deaths in Brown County since early May. The total number of cases is 10 times higher than the previous month. This is also the highest monthly COVID case rate since April. August 2021 has over three times as many COVID cases as of August 2020.

COVID numbers were relatively low in Brown County for most of the summer. May 2021 saw only 61 cases. June 2021 had the lowest number of cases since the start of the pandemic, five. July 2021 had 18 COVID cases, but this was low compared to last year. Public Health confirmed the delta variant is now the most prevalent form of the virus in the county.

Brown County Public Health Director Karen Moritz said the delta variant became the dominant form of the virus in Brown County at the start of July. There was an initial delay before individuals developed symptoms and were tested for the virus. Most of the positive tests reported in July came at the end of the month. The first week of August saw a sharp increase.

In the first full week of August Brown County Public Health reported 12 new COVID cases. The second week, Aug. 9 through Aug. 16, there were 41 new cases.

On Aug. 12, Brown County moved from a moderate transmission of the virus to substantial transmission. The cases remained high throughout the month. The third week of August had 72 new COVID cases, with 51 cases and two more deaths this past week.

Moritz said the majority of new COVID cases are among the unvaccinated. There have been a few breakthrough cases among the vaccinated, but this was anticipated with the high viral load present in the delta variant.

Moritz stills views vaccination as the best option for preventing virus spread. She said not getting the vaccine impacts more than an individual. An unvaccinated person could spread it to another person and it creates a domino effect that can shut down a business. If an adult spreads the virus to a child and that child attends daycare, this will impact several other families and keep parents out of work. This is especially concerning with the schools starting to open for the year.

The COVID vaccine is not yet approved for children 12 and under. Brown County has seen an increase in the number of children contracting COVID.

“I am hoping we can avoid transmission in the schools,” Moritz said. Schools starting in other states have already struggled with COVID spread. Public Health is recommending eligible adults get the vaccine, and masking in the school is being recommended; however, it is only a recommendation. Moritz said no Brown County school is requiring masking at this time.

As COVID rates start to climb again, vaccination is also on the rise. The number of COVID vaccines administered in Brown County has been dropping since April, falling to 580 vaccine doses in July. August saw a rebound in vaccine numbers with 1,037 doses administered.

Moritz said there is a faster rate of people seeking the first dose. At this time, 65.7% of Brown County residents 16-years and older have received at least one vaccine dose and 62.8% have completed the vaccine series.

Moritz said a vaccination rate of 70% to 75% of the population is the target goal to dramatically reduce the impact of COVID, but reaching this goal is difficult with the 12 and under demographic being ineligible.

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