CHIPPEWA FALLS — Over the past three weeks, an average of about 2,500 Chippewa County residents have been vaccinated.

“We are ready to give more vaccines; we are able to give more,” said Chippewa County Public Health Director Angela Weideman. “It’s all about the supply available.”

In the past week, 2,548 COVID-19 vaccines were given in the county, up from 2,440 a week ago, and down slightly from 2,666 two weeks ago, with about two-thirds of doses being Pfizer and one-third being the Moderna vaccine.

Overall, 12,200 vaccines have been given to county residents: 9,329 have received a first dose while 2,871 people have received their second, booster shot.

Weideman echoed comments from public health directors everywhere — supply isn’t meeting demand. Her office requested 500 doses for first-time vaccinations, but only received 100. They did receive 200 doses for second shots. With so few doses, her office won’t be holding any more clinics this week.

“Sadly, eligibility does not mean availability,” she said.

Despite the slow rollout, Weideman said that expansion of eligibility to teachers and day care workers is still targeted to begin March 1.

Some pharmacies in the county, from large chains like Walgreens to smaller shops, are now receiving vaccines as well. Weideman discouraged people from shopping around, looking for available doses.

Cases continue decline

Only 61 county residents tested positive for the virus in the past week, down from 86 a week ago, as Chippewa Counthy continues to see a sharp decline in positivity rate and hospitalizations.

A total of 417 tests were given in the past week, for a 14.6% positivity rate.

Last week, 441 tests were given, for a 19.3% positivity rate. Weideman wasn’t too concerned about the level of tests conducted weekly at this point.

“The most important thing is they get tested if they have symptoms,” she said.

However, three more people died from the virus in the past week, bringing the county’s total to 90.

Only two Chippewa County residents are now hospitalized from COVID-19-related symptoms, the same as last week, and down significantly from the all-time high of 25. Overall, 73% of hospital beds are in use in the northwest region of Wisconsin, nearly identical to last week’s 74% level. However, 92% of ICU beds are in use in the region, similar to last week’s 91%, and up significantly from 83% two weeks ago.

“There are definitely individuals from outside the Chippewa Valley hospitalized (here),” she said.

Only about 1% of the county’s 6,976 total COVID-19 cases are now considered active.

The county remains at a “high risk” level, with a recommendation that gatherings be limited to 15 indoors and 50 outdoors. While the case count continues to go down, Weideman urged the public to continue wearing masks and practice social distancing measures while the vaccine process proceeds. She noted that no variants of COVID-19 have been located in Chippewa County. The concern is those variants are considered more contagious, spreading easily, and could drive the case numbers back up.