As Jefferson County residents continue to roll up their sleeves to get a COVID-19 vaccine, the daily average of virus cases here is at its lowest point since September.
But there was a stark reminder this week of how much the coronavirus has impacted residents as the county surpassed 100 deaths from the virus.
Samroz Jakvani, epidemiologist for the Jefferson County Health Department, said the county now has 108 deaths from the virus as of Tuesday night.
“Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who died from complications of a COVID infection,” said Gail Scott, director of the Jefferson County Health Department. “Each person has a unique story and memories to treasure.
“The health department is planning a memorial for them so that they are not forgotten but rather honored for their lives and the people they touched,” she added. “Each person who died reminds us of the important work we are doing in preventing others from getting this disease. We hope that we can prevent further cases and deaths through getting our residents vaccinated as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
As more vaccines arrive in Wisconsin, reminders of the dangers of the virus also hit the nation on Monday as 500,000 deaths from the virus have been reported.
To ramp up the pace of vaccinations, Wisconsin will open four additional community vaccination clinics across the state, joining one already open in Janesville.
Pfizer and Moderna also said this week that they will be ramping up the amount of the vaccine sent to the United States, hitting a mark of 220 million doses by the end of March.
Gov. Tony Evers announced Tuesday the state will be receiving an additional 115,000 doses of vaccine for at least the next two weeks as teachers become the next group eligible to receive the vaccine starting Monday.
In Jefferson County, Scott said that up to 1,000 people a day can be vaccinated.
“We just need vaccine,” Scott said. “Hopefully more vaccine will be made available as we move through the eligible groups.”
She said the Jefferson County Health Department staff has been doing a phenomenal job in efficiently vaccinating residents.
“If we had more vaccine, we could vaccinate even more people,” Scott said. “We have wonderful volunteers and partnerships with our community, nursing schools and local emergency responders.
“Team Rubicon has been awesome in helping us with all aspects of the clinic,” she acknowledged, “from traffic control, assistance with parking, assisting people into the clinic, all the clinic stations and directing people through the clinic as well as cleaning and other assistance.”
With more vaccine on the way to the state, Julie Willems Van Dyke, deputy secretary of the state Department of Health Services, said a third vaccine from Johnson and Johnson could be approved soon.
The new community clinics the state is adding will be in La Crosse, Racine and Marathon counties, with a fourth split between Douglas and Barron counties in northwest Wisconsin.
Locations in Milwaukee and Madison also are being eyed for sites.
Nearly 47% of people over age 65 in Wisconsin have gotten at least one dose. About 225,000 teachers, school staff and child care workers will be first in line for the next priority group which becomes eligible on Monday, Willems Van Dyke said.
More than 560,000 Wisconsin residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and 6,317 have died of the disease since the pandemic started. In Jefferson County, 7,838 people have had the virus since March. And the daily case rate in the county is seven.
“By getting vaccinated, we hopefully can see an end to this pandemic,” Scott said.