By Ian Johanson
for The Beacon
The number of active cases in Sheboygan County is nearly six times the level of one month ago, in line with the state’s determination that the county is experiencing “very high” COVID-19 activity levels. There were 112 active cases on Sept. 16, increasing to 666 active cases as of Fri. Oct. 16 – not including hundreds of additional cases from Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution (KMCI).
The increasing number of active cases means newly confirmed COVID-19 cases are occurring in greater numbers than those who recover from the disease and drop off the active list.
The escalation in cases has meant the county “has not been able to notify positive cases and their close contacts in a timely manner,” according to the DPH.
The goal for a “Low” case rate, according to state Department of Health Services criteria, is 10 total cases per 100,000 residents over a two-week period. This equates to less than one case per day on average for the entire county (population 115,205).
The county had a 14-day average of 92 new confirmed cases per day as of Friday. The average was 66 per day without including the cases from KMCI, underscoring just how far from this goal the county is. The last time the county had a 14-day average of less than 1 case per day was May 20.
Despite the surge in cases, so far the county’s hospitals have been able to keep up, however they scored a yellow or “proceed with caution” status on the county’s Benchmark Criteria on Friday Oct. 16. According to the county’s Safe Restart plan, a yellow status is triggered when 50% of the county’s hospitals indicate they are not in “crisis care” mode, which means “ability to treat all patients requiring hospitalization without resorting to crisis standards.”
The county’s health care providers signed on to an “emergency alert” issued Oct. 6 by the Division of Public Health which said that “hospitals are enacting emergency plans.”
Twenty individuals were hospitalized for COVID-19 as of Friday, which was the most ever at any one time. The county averaged just 2 current hospitalizations through August 31, with the average increasing to 11 since then.
A total of 111 individuals have ever been hospitalized for COVID-19 through Friday, or 3.2% of total confirmed cases in the county. Statewide, 5.4% of cases have ever been hospitalized, and 0.9% have died.
The county’s hospitals have a combined total of 12 Intensive Care Unit beds plus 22 COVID-19 specific beds, according to a proposed version of a county Disease Control ordinance distributed Aug. 24, and which was not approved by the County Board. Using 50% of either type for COVID-19 patients would trigger an emergency County Board meeting, according the the county’s Safe Restart plan.