FOND DU LAC – The Fond du Lac County Health Department reported 1,974 new COVID-19 cases since last Thursday, according to its Community Impact Dashboard.
As of Friday, the county's total positive case count since the pandemic hit the Fond du Lac area in March 2020 was up to 22,754 — an increase from 20,780 last Thursday — and active cases are at 2,352 in the county, with 23 people hospitalized related to COVID-19.
To date, 20,218 people have been released from isolation measures, and the department has recorded 238,692 negative tests, an increase of 6,095 since last Thursday.
The total number of virus-related deaths in the county is at 184, an addition of eight since last Thursday, but information on the most recently recorded deaths was not immediately available from the health department.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks the county's transmission status as high.
The Fond du Lac Health Department announced Wednesday it will move to a prioritized model of contact tracing. Due to the increased number of positive COVID-19 cases, the department will prioritize people age 70 and older, and people age 18 and younger, for public health calls.
Anyone who tested positive should quarantine for at least five days in accordance with CDC guidelines, and notify close contacts to also quarantine, the department added. Individual employers and schools may have additional quarantine requirements.
Additionally, SSM Health Greater Fond du Lac Region announced restrictions to visitor guidelines at all of its clinics, hospitals and other locations in the area.
Starting Monday, all visitors must be over 18 years old, wear masks and be in good health, and will be asked to be screened before entering the building.
Patients can only designate one visitor for the duration of their stay or appointment, and patients on the women and infants floor can only have one primary support person. COVID-19-positive patients will not be allowed visitors.
Exceptions may be made in end-of-life situations, and the guidelines do not apply to long-term care facilities.
Fond du Lac County Health Officer Kim Mueller and SSM Health St. Agnes Hospital President Katherine Vergos will periodically provide COVID-19 updates on virus developments and other information via Zoom, with the next session scheduled for Monday.
A link will be available on the Fond du Lac County Health Department and SSM Health Greater Fond du Lac Facebook pages, and participants may ask questions through the Q&A function on Zoom or by emailing Jayce.Commo@ssmhealth.com ahead of time.
Here's the latest testing, vaccine information
Vaccine distribution is up to 55,651 county residents age 5 and older with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Thursday, which is 54.1% of the county population, according to state data.
Of those, 52,476 people — or 51% of the population — are fully vaccinated.
"The recent emergence of omicron emphasizes the importance of vaccination and boosters, even if a person has been previously ill from COVID-19," SSM Health said in a news release. "Natural protection from an earlier strain doesn't provide as much protection against this strain."
SSM Health Greater Fond du Lac Region will host mass vaccination clinics from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 14 and 19, and Feb. 11 and 16, in the lobby concourse of the regional clinic, 420 E. Division St.
The clinic will offer first, second and booster doses of Moderna and Pfizer for individuals 12 and older.
Appointments can be made by calling 920-926-8400.
For vaccination information in patients younger than 12 years old, call 920-926-8424.
Free, weekly mobile testing is available in Fond du Lac for county residents 2 and older.
A mobile unit from Accelerated Clinical Laboratories will offer free testing from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays inside the Cow Palace at the Fond du Lac County Fairgrounds, 520 Fond du Lac Ave. Masks are required in the building.
The unit offers PCR confirmatory tests, which will give results in one to two days. Symptoms are not a requirement for the mobile testing, and appointments, insurance or identification are not necessary.
On Tuesdays, the unit will offer tests in Ripon from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Alliance Laundry Systems parking lot, 119 Shephard St., at the Hall Street entrance.
Additionally, SSM Health is testing symptomatic community members, though call volume is high. Anyone with even minor symptoms can call 920-926-8400 or their health care provider for testing information.
More information on testing and vaccines is available at fdlco.wi.gov.
This article originally appeared on Fond du Lac Reporter: Fond du Lac County records eight additional COVID-19-related deaths