The rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations in Rock County is directly linked to the rise in variant virus cases in the county, according to the Rock County Public Health Department.

Communications Public Health Specialist Jessica Turner said the health department is monitoring three variants of COVID-19 circulating in the county, with the rise in cases and hospitalizations tied to the fact that those who previously had COVID-19 do not have natural immunity to the new strains of the virus.

“We still have a large portion of unvaccinated individuals in our community and those individuals are prone to infection, including severe illness. We are seeing a shift in hospitalized cases to a younger demographic,” Turner said on Tuesday.

That shift in hospitalizations is moving towards those between the ages of 40 and 65, where earlier in the pandemic hospitalizations were among residents older than 65.

New data released on Tuesday by the health department indicated there are now a total of 28 COVID-19 patients hospitalized across Rock County.

That figure is up from when just two hospitalizations were reported on March 11. The total number of hospitalizations in Rock County remains lower than the all-time peak when 74 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized on Nov. 18, 2020.

In terms of vaccinations, a total of 66,384 (40.6%) of county residents have received one vaccine dose and 48,306 (29.6%) of residents have completed vaccination.

As Rock County still has far to go, state public health officials announced on Tuesday that Wisconsin was “on a plateau” for statewide vaccinations.

Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) staff said Tuesday that the state had seen a “precipitous drop” in vaccine demand as nationwide demand for the vaccine wanes.

Statewide, 43.5% of residents have received one dose of vaccine and 34.7% had completed vaccination as of Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Rock County reported 27 new cases and no additional virus-related deaths, bringing the countywide total to 15,873 cases and 168 deaths. The health department estimates there are 450 active cases in the county as 15,255 people have recovered and 79,100 negative tests have been recorded since the beginning of the pandemic.

Across Wisconsin, 721 new cases and 11 virus-related deaths were reported on Tuesday, pushing the statewide total to 600,297 cases and 6,850 deaths. The state has a seven-day test positivity rate of 3.3% and a recovery rate of 97.4%.

In Winnebago County, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported 61 new cases and no additional virus-related deaths on Tuesday, upping the countywide total to 32,526 cases and 469 deaths.

For vaccinations, a total of 187,279 doses have been administered in the county as 30.62% of the county’s population is completely vaccinated.

Across Illinois, 2,211 cases and 19 additional virus-related deaths were reported on Tuesday, bringing the statewide total to 1,343,988 cases and 22,066 deaths. Illinois has a recovery rate of 98% and a seven-day test positivity rate of 4%.

Nationwide, 32,452 cases and 423 virus-related deaths were reported on Tuesday as 32,228,003 cases and 574,220 deaths have been reported in the U.S. For vaccinations, 44.4% of residents have received one dose and 31.8% have completed vaccination.