Younger generations account for most COVID cases here

Health officials worried about ICU bed capacity
Tim Ryan

Younger generations have accounted for most of the confirmed cases of coronavirus in Shawano and Menominee counties so far, according to health officials.

The elderly population seen as being at most risk for serious illness or death as a result of COVID-19 have had relatively few cases, according to data released by the Shawano-Menominee Counties Health Department on June 25.

Of the 73 confirmed Shawano County cases reported on June 25, seven were under 20 years old; 28 were between 20 and 39 years old; nine were age 40-49; 13 were 50-59; 10 were 60-69; and five were over 70.

Health Officer Vicki Dantoin said the numbers are in sync with what is being seen across other Wisconsin counties.

“There have been more cases in that 20s, 30s age range,” she said. “Sixty and above is not real high. That’s why we haven’t had more serious issues.”

As of Tuesday, only 13 of the 77 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Shawano County as of Tuesday have required hospitalization.

In Menominee County, there have been two hospitalizations out of eight confirmed cases.

“If we’re able to keep the COVID away from those people at highest risk, that’s the tactic we want to use,” Dantoin said.

Dr. Amy Slagle of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin’s COVID-19 incident command issued a statement on June 27 calling for people to avoid restaurants, bars, flea markets, races and large gatherings primarily out of concern for a lack of intensive care facilities.

“You may not be afraid of COVID, but it could kill your elders and those with medical problems,” Slagle wrote in her statement. “If they get sick, there may not be hospital beds for them.”

ThedaCare Medical Center in Shawano has no ICU beds.

Fox Valley hospitals were already at 87% capacity with only 13 beds available as of June 27, according to Slagle.

“COVID infections are increasing and there is little hospital capacity to take care of those who are ill,” Slagle said.

Menominee County, which has had relatively low numbers of confirmed COVID cases since the pandemic began, saw its cases jump from five to eight over the course of last weekend, according to health department data posted Monday.

With a population of about 4,500, according to 2019 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, Menominee County had a COVID case rate of 23 confirmed cases for every 100,000 people as of Monday.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, that puts Menominee County at about par with Shawano County at the moderate level of the case range.

Shawano County had recorded 77 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Monday, or about 24 out of every 100,000 people, based on the county’s population.

“Shawano is still logging one to two new cases a day,” Dantoin said. “We’re staying pretty consistent. It hasn’t gone over that in a while, but that doesn’t mean that can’t happen at some point.”

Dantoin said it’s still early in the game for the coronavirus.

“The pandemic is still relatively fresh,” she said.

Dantoin said Menominee County had done well with its lockdowns, curfews and other precautions, but two cases added in a single day last weekend “was quite a bit for them as a small community.”


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