CHIPPEWA FALLS — For the first time since COVID-19 vaccinations began, Rusk County is among the leaders in western Wisconsin in first-time doses.

In the past week, Rusk and Trempealeau counties each saw a 0.7% increase among people receiving their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and were the only counties in western Wisconsin to top the state’s rate in the past week. Only 36.9% of Rusk County’s residents have received their first COVID-19 vaccination; the county is joined by nearby Clark and Taylor counties as the only areas of the state to have not reached the 40% threshold.

Meanwhile, Rusk County recorded its 28th virus-related fatality on Friday. The county only had 17 virus-related deaths as of June 1 and 11 deaths since; thus, roughly 39% of their total deaths have come since June 1, when vaccinations were readily available across the state.

Rusk County’s 11 deaths since June 1 is more than Eau Claire County (8), St. Croix County (8), Chippewa County (9) or Dunn County (7), despite having fewer residents.

Rusk County is now averaging 197.5 deaths per 100,000 residents, the highest death rate of a dozen western Wisconsin counties, and well ahead of the state’s average of 134.4 deaths per 100,000 residents.

According to the Department of Health Services, about 0.5% of all state residents received their first COVID-19 vaccination last week. That is up slightly from a 0.4% increase last week, but down from a 0.8% increase two weeks ago.

Among counties in western Wisconsin, Buffalo and Barron counties matched the state’s 0.6% increase, while eight other counties were between a 0.3& and 0.5% increase, falling further behind the state’s overall rate.

Eau Claire (56.3% of its residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine) and Trempealeau (60.1%) counties are ahead of the state’s overall 56.0% rate. Chippewa, St. Croix and Buffalo counties are the only other areas in western Wisconsin that have reached the 50% threshold. Of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, there are 45 that have crossed the halfway mark for vaccination among their populations. In the past week, Burnett, Polk and Green Lake counties crossed the 50% mark.

With Waushara County crossing the 40% threshold this week, it leaves just Taylor (31.4%), Clark (32.7%) and Rusk (36.9%) as the last counties below that mark.

Meanwhile, Dane County continues to lead the state, at 73.3% of the population with at least one dose, up 0.4% from a week ago.

Wisconsin has now given the first dose of the vaccine to 3.26 million (56.0%) residents, up from 3.23 million residents (55.5%) last week, and up from 3.2 million people (55.1%) two weeks ago.

Roughly 3.07 million Wisconsinites (52.8%) have completed their vaccine series, up from 3.03 million (52.2%) a week ago.

However, Wisconsin continues to lag behind the national vaccination rate. About 63.6% of all U.S. residents have now received at least one COVID-19 vaccine, including 76.2% of all adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Roughly 54.4% of all Americans have completed their vaccine series, the CDC reports.

About 67.0% of all adult Wisconsin residents (ages 18 and older) have now received at least one vaccine dose, up from 66.5% last week. Eau Claire (65.9%), Chippewa (62.4%) and Dunn (51.6%) counties all trail the state’s rate for adult vaccinations.

Roughly 85.2% of Wisconsin’s seniors (age 65 and up) have now received at least one dose, and 72.9% of those ages 55 to 64 have also received their first dose.

In a breakdown by race, 55.6% of Asian Americans have received their first dose statewide, with the white population at 50.8%, American Indian population at 40.1%, and Black population at 33.2%. About 11.6% of people who have been vaccinated didn’t report their race or selected “other.”