A Message From Public Health

Iowa County Public Health continues to invest in helping to keep our community safe using the many tools available to mitigate the burden of COVID-19 disease. We are at a very different point in the pandemic compared with the first couple of years of COVID-19. At this point, it’s clear that the coronavirus is endemic, meaning, it’s become one of many viruses that we must learn to live with. Thankfully, we have many more tools to reduce the severity of coronavirus infection, including the widespread availability of vaccines, availability of at-home (antigen) tests, the development of new epidemiology tools, such as genomic surveillance, the growing role for COVID-19 treatments and therapeutics, as well as immunity (many have had COVID-19 or been vaccinated). We also have important tools to reduce virus transmission, including masks and improved ventilation as well as everyone’s knowledge regarding the value of good hygiene practices such as washing our hands and covering coughs/sneezes.

The primary factor people should consider in thinking through the degree of precautions to take is how vulnerable they are to severe illness if they were to contract COVID-19. For younger and generally healthy people, especially if they have had the coronavirus before and have been vaccinated, the chance of severe illness is very low. As a result, they might decide that they will use good hygiene practices like handwashing and sneezing into their elbows, but otherwise not take the more restrictive measures that they adopted earlier on in the pandemic like masking, social distancing and avoiding indoor interactions.

 We encourage you to continue using prevention strategies to help keep our community safe.

Question: Are older people still particularly vulnerable?

  • Yes. Most people still becoming severely ill from the coronavirus are those 65 and over and who have serious underlying medical conditions such as heart disease, lung disease and immunocompromise. These individuals should take additional precautions. To begin with, they should be sure they are up to date with coronavirus boosters. Older individuals and those with underlying medical illnesses are recommended to get the new booster vaccine when it comes out, which is expected to happen in September.
  • People should also know whether they are eligible for the antiviral medication, Paxlovid, and to have a plan for how to access it. Studies have shown that Paxlovid can reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by as much as 80% when taken within five days of symptom onset.
  • Individuals should speak with their health care provider to discuss their risk of severe illness from the coronavirus, taking into consideration the effect of boosters and antiviral treatment. Those who are still vulnerable should take added precautions to avoid contracting COVID-19 in the first place. This includes wearing a well-fitting, high-quality N95 or equivalent mask in crowded indoor places, and opting for outdoor rather than indoor gatherings.
  • There is an additional group that may wish to take precautions: people who are living with someone who is high-risk. These folks should consider masking and reducing indoor gatherings to reduce their risk of transmitting the coronavirus to their vulnerable loved ones. They should also test regularly to reduce their risk of asymptomatic transmission.

Fall 2023 COVID Information:

CDC recommends everyone age 6 months and older get a fall 2023 COVID vaccine.

The vaccination provides protection against severe illness, hospitalization, and death among everyone, but especially among people most at risk, including adults 65 and older and people who are immunocompromised.

At the Iowa County Health Department, we have the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine available for children ages 6 months - 11 years and the SPIKEVAX Vaccine for anyone 12 years and older. Since the fall 2023 COVID vaccine is privatized, we won't be able to vaccinate people with health insurance at the health department. Due to the end of the COVID emergency declaration, vaccines are no longer free, and manufacturers will charge for them. With the fall COVID vaccines, we will only be able to vaccinate people who are uninsured or underinsured (their insurance doesn’t cover vaccination).

Most insurers will cover the cost of vaccination, so if you have insurance, your vaccine will likely still be free and available through your healthcare provider or pharmacy. If you don’t have insurance or your insurance doesn’t cover vaccination, you most likely will be able to be vaccinated at the health department for free.

Visit our COVID Vaccine page for more information

COVID Testing

  • You can pick up free antigen (at-home) test kits at the HHS building (303 W Chapel St) in Dodgeville during business hours. You can also get at-home tests in stores, pharmacies, and online.
  • Many antigen tests expiration dates have been extended. Check the FDA list of authorized at-home test kits to see when your test expires.

What do I do if I test positive for COVID-19? 

Follow the link for current Isolation and Quarantine Guidance  

A Review of COVID-19

COVID-19 is a communicable, respiratory disease that can cause severe illness in some people. COVID-19 is easily spread from person to person through respiratory droplets and aerosol particles released by people with COVID-19 during coughing, sneezing, singing, talking, and breathing. We all need to continue to take steps to protect our communities and prevent COVID-19 from straining our health care systems. Additionally, we need to be aware of variants (new slightly different strains of COVID-19). New variants can potentially cause severe disease if our vaccines don’t provide protection against them. The CDC’s COVID-19 Community Levels are a tool to help you make decisions to minimize the impact COVID-19 has on our health care systems, while also protecting those who are most at risk of severe illness.

Follow us on Facebook to get the latest COVID news throughout the season.

Additional Resources:

Hospitalization Rates Map

Wisconsin Wastewater Surveillance

General Information