Portage County receives half its requested doses
By Taylor Hale
County board members were given a COVID-19 update by Portage County Health and Human Services Director Przybelski and County Executive Chris Holman on Feb. 16.
The overtone of the meeting: Portage County needs more vaccines.
“Our testing has shrunk considerably for the number of people who want to get tested,” Przybelski said.
The county has dropped its weekly testing to twice a week, down from three, and went from being supplied 300 test kits each week to only receiving 150. The National Guard performs county testing on Mondays, while public health staff administers the tests on Thursdays. The positivity rate rests around 18 percent.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services states that Portage County has had 6,441 positive cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic started, with 64 deaths reported.
Stevens Point Comptroller Corey Ladick spoke at the county meeting as a concerned citizen. Ladick noted that the statewide average for individuals receiving the vaccine is around 12.5 percent, while the Portage County average rests at 8.8 percent. During the week of Feb. 15, the county requested 200 new doses and only received 100.
“We are ready at public health to expand the number of vaccines we can give; we have another full vaccination team set and ready to go once the vaccine becomes available. The crux of the matter is there’s not enough vaccines in the state,” Przybelski explained.
According to the Department of Health Services data, only 4.2 percent of county residents have received their initial vaccination and follow up. County leaders hope that with a more stable stream of vaccinations, the county’s positive test rate will continue to decline. At the time of writing, 8,300 vaccines have been administered in the county.
Possibilities of county mask advisory
Przybelski said that if the state-wide mask mandate is overturned by the Supreme Court, the county would look into creating its own mask advisory to urge citizens to wear face coverings.
“If it is null and void we are ready to go with a version of that in Portage County,” Przybelski said about the possibility of a mask advisory.
Board members noted that businesses can regulate their own mask requirements as they see fit if the mandate is dropped, and some shops may require a mask even if the mandate falls through.