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Unvaccinated in Wisconsin hospitalized at 10x higher rate, died at 14x higher rate in December

The health department says Friday’s high number of COVID-19 cases is due to a change in how data are being reported
COVID-19 case numbers on the rise
COVID-19 case numbers on the rise(test)
Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 3:00 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 14, 2022 at 3:41 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) – The delta variant was more contagious and deadlier than the original COVID-19 virus that appeared over two years ago. The omicron variant surpassed delta by being far more contagious, but omicron didn’t create the same deadly viral load as the delta variant. In either case, health experts said vaccinations, especially with boosters, not only improved a person’s chance of not developing COVID-19 but making the disease less severe, less deadly, if they were infected.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) released its side-by-side comparison of Wisconsin’s vaccinated and unvaccinated COVID-19 cases in December 2021. Even though fully vaccinated people were the majority of the population by mid-December (57.4%), they only accounted for one-fourth of the confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The DHS says if a person was infected with the coronavirus, they were 10 times more likely to fill a hospital bed and 14 times more likely to die if they never received a vaccine or were not fully vaccinated compared to a fully vaccinated person.

For every 100,000 fully vaccinated people in Wisconsin there were:

  • 1,573.2 confirmed infections
  • 18.5 hospitalizations
  • 3.6 deaths

For every 100,000 unvaccinated, or not-fully vaccinated, people there were:

  • 4,746.4 confirmed infections
  • 176.4 hospitalizations
  • 50.8 deaths
Side-by-side comparison of Wisconsin's vaccinated and unvaccinated COVID-19 cases in December...
Side-by-side comparison of Wisconsin's vaccinated and unvaccinated COVID-19 cases in December 2021(Wisconsin Department of Health Services)

Breaking the numbers down further, among those who were infected:

  • 1.18% of fully vaccinated people who were infected were hospitalized, and 0.23% died
  • 3.72% of unvaccinated, or not fully vaccinated, people who were infected were hospitalized, and 1.07% died

The DHS says unvaccinated 25- to 44-year-olds were infected at the highest rates in December, with more than 6% of their age groups testing positive last month.

People ages 16 to 34 had the highest infection rates among the fully vaccinated population, with about 2.5% of their age groups testing positive.

Among 5- to 11-year-olds, who just became eligible for COVID-19 vaccines in November, the case rates were 3.0% among the unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated, and 0.8% in the fully vaccinated population.

For these comparisons, “fully vaccinated” means at least two weeks passed since they completed their vaccine series -- either two doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Cases, Deaths and Hospitalizations

On Friday, the DHS reported a one-day record of nearly 20,000 new COVID-19 cases (19,783), but that number needs an asterisk next to it, in boldface. Because of the overwhelming COVID-19 testing right now, the DHS says test results from local and tribal health departments are being directly imported into the Wisconsin Electronic Disease Surveillance System (WEDSS). This is getting backlogged cases into the system faster, which is causing numbers to be temporarily elevated. For this reason, the DHS advises caution when you look at case numbers over the next several days.

Rather, the DHS encourages relying on the 7-day averages, which helps to smooth out the daily fluctuations. By that measure, Wisconsin averaged almost 11,000 new cases every day over the past week -- which itself is a record. In the past 23 months, a total of 1,139,933 people in Wisconsin tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, equal to almost one-fifth (19.6%) of the state’s population. Brown County passed 56,000 total cases with nearly 1,500 added; Winnebago County passed 35,000 total cases; and Langlade County topped 4,000.

Also in the past week, almost 29% (28.8%) of all COVID-19 tests came back positive (the all-time high positivity rate is 29.5%, set one week ago).

The death toll rose by 52 since Thursday, to 10,486. Waupaca County reported 3 deaths. Brown and Outagamie counties reported 2. Dodge, Door and Sheboygan counties each reported 1 more COVID-19 death. Twenty-nine of the deaths happened in the past 30 days, so they’re counted in the 7-day average; that rolling average is up from 24 to 27 deaths per day. The death rate slipped to 0.92% as non-fatal case numbers rise at a faster rate.

County-by-county case and death numbers are listed at the end of our daily updates.

The hospitalization rate continues to tumble, too, from 4.77% to 4.69% on Friday. DHS numbers show 217 more people were hospitalized for COVID-19 in the past 24-hour period. An average 176 COVID-19 patients are being hospitalized every day, by our calculations. The Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) reported 2,255 people are currently hospitalized for COVID-19 care, a net increase of 36 patients after taking discharges and deaths into account but still below the record set Wednesday of 2,278 patients. Of these, 485 are in intensive care, six more than a day ago and just below Wednesday’s record of 488.

Northeast health care region hospitals had 210 patients, 18 more than a day earlier, including 51 in ICU, an increase of 4. Fox Valley hospitals had 168 patients, 3 more than Thursday, with 26 in ICU, a decline of 2.

Vaccinations

Vaccinators in Wisconsin doled out another 19,420 doses of vaccine since their last report, for a total 8,839,962 doses in the past 53 weeks. These include 1,759,421 booster shots.

The DHS reports 3,659,548 Wisconsinites received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, almost 3,900 more (3,886) than the day before. Out of that number, 3,423,340 completed their vaccine series, or about 3,000 more than yesterday (3,041).

That’s 62.7% of the state’s population receiving at least one dose and 58.7% being completely vaccinated.

FRIDAY’S VACCINATIONS BY AGE GROUP (and change since last report)

  • 5 to 11: 23.1% received vaccine (+0.2)/17.6% completed vaccinations (+0.2)
  • 12 to 17: 58.4% received vaccine (+0.1)/53.5% completed vaccinations (+0.1)
  • 18 to 24: 57.7% received vaccine (+0.1)/51.9% completed vaccinations (+0.1)
  • 25 to 34: 62.1% received vaccine (+0.1)/57.0% completed vaccinations (+0.1)
  • 35 to 44: 67.8% received vaccine (+0.1)/63.6% completed vaccinations (+0.0)
  • 45 to 54: 70.5% received vaccine (+0.0)/67.0% completed vaccinations (+0.0)
  • 55 to 64: 77.3% received vaccine (+0.0)/74.1% completed vaccinations (+0.0)
  • 65 and up: 85.6% received vaccine (+0.0)/82.0% completed vaccinations (+0.0)

FRIDAY’S VACCINATIONS BY COUNTY POPULATION (and change since last report)

County (Population)
(Health region)
% of population
with at least 1 dose
% of population
completed series
Brown (264,542) (NE)64.1% (+0.1)60.5% (+0.1)
Calumet (50,089) (FV)55.8% (+0.1)52.9%
Dodge (87,839)51.3%48.4% (+0.1)
Door (27,668) (NE)77.7% (+0.1)72.8%
Fond du Lac (103,403) (SE)54.5% (+0.1)51.3%
Forest (9,004)51.6% (+0.1)48.5% (+0.1)
Florence (4,295) (NE)51.7% (+0.1)49.0% (+0.1)
Green Lake (18,913) (FV)56.7% (+0.1)53.0% (+0.1)
Kewaunee (20,434) (NE)51.8%49.7%
Langlade (19,189)53.1% (+0.1)50.5% (+0.1)
Manitowoc (78,981) (NE)59.3%56.2%
Marinette (40,350) (NE)52.3%49.5% (+0.1)
Menominee (4,556) (FV)78.7% (+0.1)74.4%
Oconto (37,930) (NE)52.1%49.5% (+0.1)
Outagamie (187,885) (FV)63.0% (+0.1)59.4% (+0.1)
Shawano (40,899) (FV)46.8%44.5%
Sheboygan (115,340) (SE)61.5% (+0.1)58.0% (+0.1)
Waupaca (50,990) (FV)54.6%51.8% (+0.1)
Waushara (24,443) (FV)45.2%42.7%
Winnebago (171,907) (FV)61.1% (+0.1)57.3%
NORTHEAST REGION (474,200) (NE)291,750 (61.5%, +0.1)275,714 (58.1%)
FOX VALLEY REGION (549,682) (FV)323,779 (58.9%, +0.1)305,240 (55.5%)
WISCONSIN (5,822,434)3,659,548 (62.7%)3,423,340 (58.7%, +0.1)

To find free COVID-19 vaccination sites near you, text your ZIP Code to 438829.

FRIDAY’S COUNTY CASE AND DEATH TOTALS (boldface indicates change in cases or deaths since the last report) **

Michigan’s next update will be Wednesday, January 19, due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday

  • Brown – 58,326 cases (+1,481) (316 deaths) (+2)
  • Calumet – 9,977 cases (+200) (82 deaths)
  • Dickinson (Mich.)* - 4,082 cases (+87) (77 deaths)
  • Dodge – 20,317 cases (+247) (246 deaths) (+1)
  • Door – 5,526 cases (+136) (44 deaths) (+1)
  • Florence - 667 cases (+8) (15 deaths)
  • Fond du Lac – 24,495 cases (+450) (189 deaths)
  • Forest - 1,975 cases (+33) (43 deaths)
  • Gogebic (Mich.)* - 2,204 cases (+71) (34 deaths)
  • Green Lake - 3,456 cases (+46) (41 deaths)
  • Iron (Mich.)* – 1,856 cases (+20) (61 deaths)
  • Kewaunee – 3,988 cases (+67) (37 deaths)
  • Langlade - 4,069 cases (+75) (50 deaths)
  • Manitowoc – 14,743 cases (+274) (125 deaths)
  • Marinette - 8,269 cases (+140) (86 deaths)
  • Menominee (Mich.)* - 3,320 cases (+51) (56 deaths)
  • Menominee – 1,370 cases (+55) (12 deaths)
  • Oconto – 8,164 cases (+193) (73 deaths)
  • Outagamie – 36,207 cases (+699) (280 deaths) (+2)
  • Shawano – 8,207 cases (+183) (101 deaths)
  • Sheboygan – 24,633 cases (+368) (188 deaths) (+1)
  • Waupaca – 9,714 cases (+161) (174 deaths) (+3)
  • Waushara – 4,044 cases (+81) (61 deaths)
  • Winnebago – 35,546 cases (+723) (287 deaths)
Wisconsin coronavirus briefing, January 13

Wisconsin's governor and the state's health are experts discussing the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the state.

Posted by WBAY TV-2 on Thursday, January 13, 2022

* You can find cases and deaths for all 72 Wisconsin counties on the DHS County Data website. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and Wisconsin Hospital Association publishes updates Mondays through Fridays. Michigan Department of Health updates information on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

** Cases and deaths are from state COVID-19 reports, which may differ from local health department numbers. The Wisconsin DHS reports cases from all health departments within a county’s boundaries, including tribal, municipal and county health departments; county websites may not. Also, public health departments update their data at various times, whereas the DHS freezes the numbers it receives by the same time every day to compile the afternoon report.

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