DHS Reports 14 New Coronavirus Variant Cases, More Than 2.5M Vaccine Doses Administered

2 New Deaths, 60 New Hospitalizations Reported Thursday

A woman in a face mask looks down at her arm as she receives a shot.
Emily Muetze of Wauwatosa receives a COVID-19 vaccine Thursday, March 11, 2021, at Hayat Pharmacy in Milwaukee, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

More than 2.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Wisconsin, according to health officials.

More than 300,000 doses were administered last week. That’s compared to about 200,000 weekly doses in mid-February, Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, said during a briefing Thursday.

She also noted that Wisconsin will receive an uptick in doses from the federal government next week, including about 35,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine.

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On Thursday, DHS confirmed that Wisconsin has added more than a dozen new cases of the B.1.1.7 variant of the virus, which has been shown to be more transmissible than the existing dominant strain.

“We know that these variants are particularly infectious, and we’re seeing in other places, younger people suffering from higher levels of infection, and so we are watching the number of cases very, very closely,” Willems Van Dijk said, noting Minnesota and Michigan have both experienced a spike in variant cases.

In fact, she said the number of variant cases — and their impact on younger Wisconsinites — could be a factor in whether the state adjusts its plans to open vaccine eligibility to all groups. Right now, the plan is to make it available to everyone over 16 on May 1. More than 2 million residents with certain health conditions became eligible for vaccination this week. It’s important those people get in the vaccination system before eligibility expands, Willems Van Dijk said.

“We’re constantly evaluating where we are at in terms of vaccination,” she said.

New reports of COVID-19 cases are holding steady in Wisconsin, based on the latest data published by DHS.

DHS reported 537 new cases of the disease Thursday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 459 daily cases. One week ago, the average was 409 daily cases. During Thursday’s call, Willems Van Dijk said Wisconsin is still experiencing a high level of disease activity, it’s just much lower than past surges. Still, Wisconsinites need to remain vigilant, she said.

There were 4,477 negative tests reported Thursday.

As COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin remain relatively low, more of the state’s residents are being vaccinated against the disease.

A total of 2,516,716 doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered in Wisconsin as of Thursday, with 52 percent of Wisconsinites age 65 and up fully vaccinated.

As of Thursday, 917,203 people in Wisconsin, or 15.8 percent of the population, have been fully vaccinated. On Thursday, health officials announced that Wisconsin will open a new community-based vaccination clinic in Marathon County on April 6.

Increasing rates of vaccination have provided a sense of hope after a yearlong pandemic that has claimed the lives of 6,599 people in Wisconsin. There were two new deaths from COVID-19 reported Thursday.

Other DHS data from Thursday include:

  • 574,436 total cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
  • 3,272,609 total tests administered, 2,698,173 of which have been negative since the pandemic began.
  • 27,314 people have been hospitalized because of the disease, or 4.8 percent of all positive cases, since the pandemic began.
  • Daily testing capacity remains at 59,273, though only 5,014 new test results were reported Thursday.

Coronavirus rates vary from county to county. In order to track COVID-19 activity levels, DHS looks at the number of new cases per a county’s population over a 14-day period — and whether there’s an upward or downward trend in new cases. Activity levels range from “critically high,” “very high,” “high,” “medium,” to “low.”

As of Wednesday, DHS data showed the state had no counties with “critically high” or “very high” levels of COVID-19 activity. The majority of Wisconsin counties have “high” levels of activity. There were growing case trajectories in Jefferson, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Rock, Waupaca and Washington counties. Wisconsin’s overall COVID-19 activity level is “high.”

For more about COVID-19, visit Coronavirus in Wisconsin.