CHIPPEWA FALLS — Of the 530 active COVID-19 cases in Chippewa County, 169 (30.2%) are ages 0-18.

"This is up nearly four percent from last week," said Chippewa County Public Health Director Angela Weideman during her weekly COVID-19 press conference Thursday. 

Last week, roughly 26.3% of all active COVID-19 cases were among children, and that is up from 23.5% two weeks ago.

Weideman said that everyone wants to see schools stay open and children be successful in the classroom.

"Right now, acheiving that goal is being threatened by COVID-19," she said. 

Weideman said she couldn't offer a number of children who are in isolation or quarantine, saying "that number is extremely hard to keep on top of."

However, she isn't recommending any schools close at this time.

"We meet with our schools on a weekly basis," she said. "With the numbers we're seeing, it's obviously concerning."

However, none of the 10 Chippewa County residents currently hospitalized with virus-related symptoms are youths, she said. Roughly 84% of hospital beds in medical centers across northwest Wisconsin are now in use, including 95% of ICU beds. Also, about 14% of ventilators in the region are being used. Weideman said she didn't know the exact number of available beds in the region. There are people from outside the Chippewa Valley hospitalized in centers in northwest Wisconsin, as the number of cases and hospitalizations continue to climb, she said. 

No new deaths were recorded in the county in the past week; 103 county residents have died of virus-related symptoms since the beginning of the pandemic.

In the past week, 158 people tested positive out of 391 tests given (37.8%). That positivity rate is on par with a week ago, when 256 people tested positive out of 663 tests given (38.6%), and up slightly from 169 positive cases from 491 tests (34.4%) a week ago.

Weideman reminded people who takes a COVID-19 test at home to report a positive result to their health care provider and to the public health department. Anyone who is sick should get tested, regardless of vaccination status.

Weideman said there is drive-up vaccination event planned for Saturday at the Lafayette Town Fire Station, and all three approved COVID-19 vaccinations will be available there. The first 40 people present will receive a $25 gift card, along with being eligible for a $100 U.S. Bank debit card from the state.

Obtaining COVID-19 tests is becoming more of a challenge, with longer wait periods, she said. With many employers now requiring vaccinations or weekly COVID-19 tests for those who opt not to get vaccinated, Weideman said it could become even more difficult to obtain tests.