Wisconsin’s COVID-19 rates remain higher for unvaccinated, new DHS numbers show

Case rates for unvaccinated and boosted are still very close, while the not boosted figure is much lower.
Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 4:49 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The rate that unvaccinated Wisconsinites who contract COVID-19 end up in the hospital or die from complications related to the virus remained much higher in June even as the overall numbers among most groups retreated.

Those numbers from the Department of Health Services also show, while the risk of the most serious outcomes is higher for people who never got a vaccine shot, that group has about as much chance of contracting COVID-19 as those who have received a booster dose. Conversely, those who finished their initial series but did not go back for an extra jab are less likely to test positive for the virus.

On Thursday, state health officials pointed to nationwide figures indicating people who have received booster shots are seeing more infections because of the recent slew of variants. A DHS spokesperson pointed to several trends that would affect direct comparisons between the groups, including:

  • Unvaccinated people and those who did not get the booster shot are more likely to have contracted COVID-19 already
  • The dashboard does not specifically account for how long its been since the vaccination, given waning protection provided by vaccines
  • The differences in which groups use at-home tests and how likely they are to report positive tests
  • Differences in prevention measures taken by people based on their age or vaccination status.

DHS’ latest update found unvaccinated people were five times more likely to be admitted into a hospital because of their symptoms than someone who was vaccinated, but not boosted. That ratio is cut in half for those who are boosted; however, they are still 2.5 times less likely to end up in a hospital than someone who never went for their first dose.

The gaps widened when tracking deaths among the three groups. DHS found less than one in 100,000 people who were vaccinated, regardless of if they were boosted or not, had died in June because of the virus. For the unvaccinated, that rate climbed to 3.2 per 100,000 people.

As far as catching COVID-19 in general, all three groups saw a decline in June that coincided with the decline in the seven-day rolling-average for new, confirmed cases. The May number reflected the largest surge since the Omicron surge sent cases to unprecedented heights over the winter. In June, those numbers steadily declined, right up to the Fourth of July holiday weekend when the downward trend reversed itself.

The rolling average rose again with the latest daily numbers released on Tuesday. Health officials tallied 1,742 new cases in the newest report, which is nearly in line with the 1,767 cases per day the state averaged over the past week. That puts it more than a hundred cases higher than this point last week.

The rolling-average for deaths stayed constant at two per day over the recent week, according to DHS, continuing its trend of relatively low numbers.

clarification: This story has been updated with information provided by the Department of Health Services, on July 28, 2022.

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