by Ian Johanson
for The Beacon
The COVID cases and hospitalization numbers in Sheboygan County are improving, while the supply of vaccines remains below what could be administered, according to the county’s health officer.
Sheboygan County Health Officer Starrlene Grossman told the Health and Human Services Committee last Tuesday morning that the trend for COVID activity is “significantly downward” with the last activity level update putting the county into the “very high” level, but only slightly above the next lower “high” category.
Hospitalizations remain low and steady, Grossman said, “definitely better than what we were seeing in October and November when we were seeing such high hospitalizations.”
Deaths from COVID jumped by eight that Tuesday, for a total of 122 so far in the county. Of the new deaths, two were in the 60-69 age group, one 70-79, two 80-89, and three in the 90+ age group, according to state data.
The distribution of COVID vaccine from the state “remains a little stagnant,” according to Grossman, because the state is not getting enough from the federal level. “The vaccine being pushed out to the local level is continuing to be on the lower end, so we’re still not seeing what we have the capacity to possibly give within our community, because there is just not enough supply.”
There have been 8,242 doses of COVID vaccine administered as of last Tuesday, or 7% of the county’s population, according to preliminary state data, compared to 10% of the state as a whole. An average of 451 doses were administered in the county per day over the last seven days. As many as 1,000 appointments could be filled per day in the county when the vaccines fully roll out, according to county officials.
Grossman said the state is currently prioritizing vaccine distribution to communities that have larger minority populations, while allocations requested by smaller clinics are going towards larger systems due to lack of vaccine supply.
According to the state Department of Health Services, “communities of color are suffering a disproportionate impact, and bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The “Racial and Ethnic Disparities” page on the DHS COVID website says, “Compared to White Wisconsin residents, Hispanic or Latinx residents have 1.7 times greater case rates, Black residents have 2.1 times greater hospitalization rates, and American Indian residents have 1.5 times greater death rates.”