After U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy raised concerns about the highly contagious Delta variant spreading as millions of Americans remain unvaccinated on Sunday, Rock County Public Health epidemiologist Nick Zupan said another wave of COVID is possible in the Rock County with vaccination rates being around 50%.

Zupan said it will be a “marathon” to get as many people vaccinated in the county before the Delta variant starts spreading. Other concerns will be school years will start soon, cold weather will set in and more people will find themselves in crowded conditions.

About half of Rock County is fully vaccinated, a similar percentage to the state. Zupan said there are 26,000 kids under the age of 12 in the county and almost 60,000 Rock County residents who haven’t completed the vaccine series. He said the total of 86,000 unvaccinated people is a substantial number of people who could contract the highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant.

The Associated Press reported Sunday U.S. cases of COVID-19 increased by 17,000 nationwide over a 14-day period for the first time since late fall. Nevada ranked fifth among U.S. states for the most new cases per capita over the last two weeks, and COVID-19 hospitalizations have more than doubled in a month in Alabama as only a third of the population is fully vaccinated. Cases are also on the rise in Springfield, Missouri.

Zupan said he hopes Rock County can reach a 70% vaccination rate, noting Dane County has just under 67% of its population fully vaccinated.

The more contagious Delta variant has not yet been identified in the county, although Zupan said it’s likely here as it’s been in Wisconsin for weeks.

Although Zupan said there hasn’t been an overwhelming number of new cases in the last month or so, last year it was also a relatively quiet summer for COVID before cases increased around the start of the school year in late August and early September.

“It’s always going to be a concern when people are unvaccinated,” he said.

There were 2,837,909 people in Wisconsin who have completed the COVID-19 vaccine series, or 49% of the population.

There were seven new cases of COVID-19 in Beloit from July 12-19; nine new cases in Janesville; one in Edgerton; seven in Evansville. There were no cases reported in Milton or Clinton for that time period and two cases in the remainder of the county.

There were 16,227 people in Rock County who recovered from COVID-19 and 76 active cases on Monday. There were three people hospitalized in the county as of July 15, up from no hospitalizations on July 6.

The age groups with the highest percentage of those getting COVID-19 in the county are those age 15-24 or 17%, and those aged 25 to 34 also account for 17% of cases.

The seven-day average of new cases per day in Wisconsin was 156 on Monday with a positivity rate of 2.2%, up from 0.8% recorded in late June.

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