On Feb. 23, the Grant County Board of Health held one of its monthly meetings via Zoom regarding COVID-19 vaccine distribution and the state of the county in regards to the pandemic.
The first issue discussed was the virus’ toll on the county. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Grant County has faced 4,648 confirmed cases, 79 deaths (5 probable), and 4,515 of those infected individuals are recovering well or have recovered. Grant County is averaging about 4-5 cases daily, varying by about 2-3 probable cases per day. Of note is an increase in COVID-19 cases in those under the age of 18. It appears as though the state will be prioritizing distribution towards educators and those they teach in the next round of vaccine distribution.
Though many in the county have still not been vaccinated against the virus, the first two waves of vaccinations have proven widely successful – nearly half of those 65 and older ,an age group ravaged by the virus, in the county have been vaccinated in the past couple of months. Starting March 1, eligibility for vaccination widens to include educational faculty members and essential workers, among others. While this does allow for more people to receive the vaccine statewide, and there are many who are looking forward to it, a new issue has arisen: supply.
Temporarily, the flow of vaccines available to the county has been cut down considerably, though requests for vaccines were fulfilled as normal up until last week. March 1 saw the county’s order for 2,000 doses met with a measly 200. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, this shortage goes statewide in a similar ratio: for the nearly 1.5 million doses of the vaccine requested, the state will be receiving only 207,000 doses for this week. As the Johnson and Johnson vaccine has been approved for emergency use and the other manufacturers have upped their production, shortages should resolve themselves in the coming weeks.
While on paper the pandemic seems to be well in hand, community testing within the county has been down, obfuscating the results of the efforts. According to the Board of Health, due to the lack of use, the community might see a shutdown of community-based testing sites in the county by the end of March depending on how future vaccination prospects pan out.