Kenosha County Public Health answers frequently asked questions on COVID-19

In response to recent community questions about COVID-19 — particularly, the Delta variant and vaccine developments — Kenosha County Public Health is providing this Q&A reference for the public.

Kenosha County Health Officer Dr. Jen Freiheit reminds the public that the spread of COVID- 19 remains active in the community, and the precautions can and should be taken to minimize health risks associated with the virus.

“Nearly a year and a half into the local response to the pandemic, I know that it is difficult to continue taking many of these precautions, but now is not the time to let our guard down when it comes to protecting ourselves and our families,” Freiheit said. “Vaccination remains the most significant step people can take to protect themselves and others, and social distancing, masking and washing hands frequently are also tools we should continue using.”

Following are answers to recent, frequently asked questions:

Q: What is the current COVID-19 situation in Kenosha County?

A: As of Friday, Sept. 3, Kenosha and most other Wisconsin counties and all counties in Illinois are listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as having a high level of community transmission. This information is updated regularly at https://covid.cdc.gov/covid- data-tracker/#county-view.

Kenosha County has gone from averaging five new cases per day on July 1 to averaging nearly 50 cases per day as of late August (7-day averages). This is after daily cases had dropped steadily from mid-April to late June.

The recent increase in cases coincides with the spread of the Delta variant, which has demonstrated itself to be more highly transmissible than earlier forms of COVID-19. The CDC estimates that a person infected with the original COVID-19 strain would infect two additional people on average, a person infected with the Delta variant would infect five additional people on average.

Q: With breakthrough cases on the rise, should I bother to get vaccinated?

A: Yes, absolutely. While the Delta variant has demonstrated its transmissibility to those who are fully vaccinated, the CDC reports the greatest risk of transmission is among unvaccinated people who are much more likely to contract and therefore transmit the virus. The CDC also reports substantially lower risk of hospitalization and death for fully vaccinated people even if they do contract the virus.

And while fully vaccinated people with Delta variant breakthrough infections can spread the virus to others, vaccinated people appear to be infectious for a shorter period.

Put simply, vaccination continues to be a safe, easily accessible way to protect yourself from the effects of COVID-19, and to limit its spread. Information about where you can get vaccinated locally remains available on the Kenosha County COVID-19 Response Hub webpage, at www.kenoshacounty.org/covid-19.

Q: Will I really get paid if I get vaccinated?

A: Yes. Under a program that the State of Wisconsin announced recently, Wisconsin residents who get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine between Aug. 20 and Sept. 19 are eligible to receive a $100 Visa gift card. This is being funded with federal COVID-19 relief dollars.

Those who receive their first dose during this window must fill out an online form to receive the gift card. More information about this program is available at https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/100.htm.

Q: Is it safe to be vaccinated if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

A: Yes. Research shows that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for pregnant and breastfeeding people.

Pregnant people are more likely to get severely sick from COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people, and pregnant people with COVID-19 are at a higher risk for pregnancy complications. If you are fully vaccinated, your chance of getting severely sick or hospitalized is much lower than if you are not fully vaccinated.

More details on this from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services are available here:https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p02977.pdf.

Q: I’m very healthy — I eat healthy food, I exercise, and I don’t have any underlying medical conditions. Why would I need to get vaccinated?

A: Studies have indicated even healthy people are at risk, even if less risk, of severe disease and death from COVID-19. Furthermore, there is a risk of long-term effects from COVID-19, such as organ damage, even in younger, healthier people.

Also significant, healthy people can still be infected with COVID-19 and pass it on symptomatically or asymptomatically to family, friends, and others who may have a greater risk of severe complications.

Q: Which vaccine is the best? Are any of them unsafe?

A: A report published by Yale Medicine determined that the three varieties currently being administered in the United States — Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson — all have unique traits, but all offer strong protection against severe disease.

The Pfizer vaccine last month became the first variety to receive full FDA approval for people ages 16 and older, while an emergency use authorization remains in effect for people ages 12- 17. Emergency use authorizations also remain in place for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vacccines for people 18 or older.

Severe side effects have been found to be extremely rare with all three of the vaccines.
You can read the full Yale Medicine report at
https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/covid-19-

vaccine-comparison.

Q: When will kids under 12 be able to get vaccinated?

A: Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a member of Pfizer’s board of directors, told CNBC on Monday, Sept. 1, that he expects the Pfizer vaccine to be cleared for use in children ages 5 to 11 in late fall or early winter this year.

This expectation is in line with recent remarks from White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, CNBC reported.

Q: Where can I get vaccinated if I have to be at work all day during the week?

A: Many local providers are offering vaccinations on weekends and after regular business hours. A list of providers and links to their reservation systems is at www.kenoshacounty.org/covid-19.

Q: I’ve been vaccinated. Do I need a booster, and when can I get it?

A: People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised are recommended to get an additional dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least 28 days after their initial two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series.

People who are immunocompromised include those who have been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood, those who are taking medicine to suppress the immune system after an organ or stem cell transplant, people with moderate or severe primary immunodeficiencies, those with advanced or untreated HIV infection, and those in active treatment with other drugs that may suppress your immune response.

Individuals who are in these categories are encouraged to consult with their health care provider about whether they need to receive an additional dose.

(Note: An additional dose for people who received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is not recommended at this time because of limited data; the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are monitoring the data and will make recommendations as needed.)

The CDC does not recommend additional doses for any other population at this time, although the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently announced a plan to recommend booster shots for all later this fall. More details will be announced at a future date, after federal authorities review data further.

More information about additional vaccine doses are available at https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/vaccine-dose.htm and at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/immuno.html.

Q: What is your current recommendation on the wearing of face masks?

A: The CDC currently advises that people age 2 and over, regardless of vaccination status, should wear a mask indoors in public in areas with a substantial or high level of public transmission of the virus. This includes Kenosha County at this time.

This is intended to maximize protection from the Delta variant and to prevent possibly spreading it to others.

In schools, Kenosha County Public Health is recommending the implementation of universal masking requirements for teachers, staff, students and visitors in all education systems, regardless of vaccination status. This includes K-12 schools and institutions of higher education.

This recommendation comes as the population of those under age 12 remains ineligible for vaccination.

Q: How can I stay informed about COVID-19 in our community?

A: The Kenosha County COVID-19 Response Hub webpage, at www.kenoshacounty.org/covid-19, includes dashboards detailing case counts, hospitalizations and vaccination rates locally.

Timely information is also shared on the Kenosha County Public Health Facebook page, atwww.facebook.com/KenoshaCountyPublicHealth.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services also has several county-level graphs on its COVID-19 data hub at https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/county.htm.

Great Lakes Brew Fest Set For Kenosha’s Lakefront September 11

Great Lakes Brew Fest Set For Kenosha’s Lakefront September 11

The annual Great Lakes Brew Fest (GLBF) will be held Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021 from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at HarborPark Celebration Place, 5501 Ring Road, Kenosha, WI 53140.

Since 2004, the GLBF has developed into one of the most iconic beer festivals in the region, drawing attendees from more than 25 states. Returning to the festival this year, is the ever-popular Home Brew Island which showcases several local home brew clubs sampling their small batch beers, mead and ciders.

“The Home Brew Island is a crowd favorite because it represents the roots of where the craft beer movement was born,” said Curt Foreman, founder and co-chairman of the Great Lakes Brew Fest. "In addition, the Cider Cellar, which has been a huge hit with attendees, will have even more ciders and meads to sample. Of course, the homebrews and ciders that are available at this year’s fest will be in addition to the more than 250 commercially available craft beers from more than 50 local and regional brewers,” said Foreman.

The festival theme this year is Team Spirit.  Each year a theme is chosen and attendees dress up in costume or in this case jerseys of their favorite team. “We’re excited to see what everyone wears! People get super creative!”, said Foreman.

The Great Lakes Brew Fest benefits the Racine Kilties Drum & Bugle Corps, a Racine institution and one of the oldest drum and bugle corps in the country. The Kilties Mad Plaid horn line plans to perform again this year. The Proceeds raised get donated to local school musical groups.  The event is managed by BrewFest Partners, a firm specializing in event promotion and consulting.

The event will also feature live music with Michelle and the Rock Daddys performing at 3 pm, and the Mad Plaid Brass at 4:30 pm.

There is free street parking available in the area. We always recommend planning ahead for safe travel – Designated Driver tickets are available (DDs must be 21 and over). Cabs and rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are encouraged.

General Admission is $50 and includes a souvenir tasting glass and unlimited samples of craft beer and cider. An early admission Gold Pass is $80 with the same benefits of general admission and a 2 p.m. start time. The Gold Pass is $80 and includes 2 p.m. early entry, souvenir festival pint glass and rare beer tasting.  Designated driver tickets are also available for $20 (general admission).  Attendees must be 21 and older and no children or pets are allowed on the grounds. An expanded variety of local area restaurant food will also be sold.

All attendees must be age 21 or older and present valid ID. No children, babies, or pets are allowed.

For more information, email info@greatlakesbrewfest.com or go to www.greatlakesbrewfest.com.

Your Local Indie Bookstore Found a New Home!

Blue House Books, your local indie bookstore, is expanding to a new store in the Friendship Park neighborhood of Downtown Kenosha. Blue House Books will have their new store grand opening from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, September 18th at their new home, 5915 6th Avenue A.

Owner Samantha Jacquest, shared “I genuinely cannot believe Blue House Books is ready for this expansion so soon, but due to the endless love and support from our customers and community, we decided to take the plunge.” 

During the grand opening celebration, Blue House Books will be hosting story time at Noon and a live music performance at 2 p.m. with local musician Ben Mulwana. The Blue House Books team will also have items to give away to a few lucky shoppers that visit the store on Saturday and Sunday, September 18 and 19.

Blue House Books will continue to operate with normal store hours at their current location, 5615 7th Ave, until Sunday, September 5. After that, Samantha asks that customers check social media for changes to hours and temporary closures while they work to get the store moved and ready to open.

About Blue House Books: Blue House Books is an independent bookstore operating in Downtown Kenosha since 2017. BHB is a full-service bookstore—carrying stock for all age groups and from all genres—with a focus on customer service and recommendations.

 

For more information, find us online:

Blue-House-Books.com  |  Facebook.com/bhbkenosha  |  Instagram: @bhbkenosha

Kreuser announces appointments to Kenosha County’s new Racial and Ethnic Equity Commission

Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser today announced the seven applicants he is recommending to serve on the county’s new Racial and Ethnic Equity Commission.

Kreuser interviewed and selected these individuals from a field of 35 individuals who applied before the June 30 deadline.

Under the County Board resolution that established the committee earlier this year, members are to serve three-year terms, staggered so that the committee does not undergo complete turnover at any given time. As such, the initial appointees’ terms are of varying lengths; commissioners may serve up to two consecutive terms.

The appointees and initial terms of service are:
n Brian Martinez, to serve through December 2022 n Tyler Arentz, to serve through December 2022
n Braden Backer, to serve through December 2023 n Justin Crosby, to serve through December 2023
n Elizabeth Garcia, to serve through December 2023 n Mimi Yang, to serve through December 2024
n Derrell Greene, to serve through December 2024

Additionally, under the resolution creating the committee, County Board Chairman John O’Day has the authority to appoint two members of the board to serve on the commission. His selections are Supervisors Daniel Gaschke and Sharon Pomaville.

The appointees’ service on the commission will begin immediately, pending confirmation votes by the County Board on Aug. 17.

“These were difficult decisions to make because our pool of applicants was very strong,” Kreuser said. “I thank everyone who took the time to apply, and I wish the appointed commissioners well as they begin the vital work that this commission was created to do.”

The mission of the commission is to realize greater racial equity and dismantle racism in Kenosha County through research, education and ongoing review of current policies and procedures, as to implement transformative ideas born through research, collaboration, and community engagement.

As outlined in the resolution creating it, the commission is to reflect the diverse racial and ethnic makeup of Kenosha County as determined by the most recent Census data, with five of the seven county executive appointees representing racial and ethnic minorities in the county. Kreuser said he is pleased to bring forth a group of appointees that represent the rich racial and ethnic makeup of the community.

Kreuser said he hopes the other 28 applicants will be willing to serve in other capacities throughout the county.

As for the County Board appointees, O’Day said he is confident that Supervisors Gaschke and Pomaville will serve the commission as thoughtful representatives of the board and the community at large.

“This commission has a significant task ahead of it, and an important role to play in the community,” O’Day said. “I look forward to seeing this work get underway, and to hearing the reports the commission will bring back to the County Board in the coming months and years.”

About the county executive appointees:

Tyler Arentz, of Kenosha, is varsity cheerleading coach at Bradford High School with master’s degrees in education and psychology. A former behavioral treatment technician working with children with autism and a former activity aid at a skilled nursing facility, he has also been involved in numerous volunteer efforts in recent years.

Bradden Backer, of Somers, is an employment lawyer, providing employers and employees with advice and representation on a full range of employment matters and civil rights concerns. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School, he has lived in the Kenosha area for more than 30 years.

Justin Crosby, of Wheatland, is a former communication tech with Comcast NBCUniversal. He studied business and computer information systems at Concordia University of Chicago.

Elizabeth Garcia, of Kenosha, is a legal secretary at a law office in Kenosha. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside with a bachelor’s degree in communications, she has been active with Root-Pike WIN, the Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast, the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha and WIPZ Parkside Student Radio.

Derrell Greene, of Kenosha, is a 23-year U.S. Army veteran, having served tours of duty in Germany, Korea, and in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm. He retired in 2015 after seven years as director of the Kenosha County Division of Veterans Services and has been involved in numerous community organizations, including those that emphasize diversity and equity.

Brian Martinez, of Kenosha, is general manager of Martino’s Master Dry Cleaners and a football coach at Bradford High School. He has also been involved with the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha and the Kenosha Ramblers and Kenosha Cougars football clubs.

Mimi Yang, of Pleasant Prairie, is a professor emeritus of modern languages and Asian studies at Carthage College and recent recipient of a New England Regional Fellowship from the Massachusetts Historical Society, with her studies focused on race relations, multiracial democracy and multicultural patriotism. She is a fluent speaker of English, Spanish and Chinese.

About the County Board chairman appointees:

Daniel Gaschke has represented the central-city Kenosha 7th District on the County Board since 2018. He and his wife are adoptive and foster parents who operate Kindermusik with Emilie LLC, a music school offering private lessons and small-group music and movement classes for children. He has also worked in education and mental health care.

Sharon Pomaville was elected in April 2020 to represent the 20th District, which includes the Village of Paddock Lake and portions of the Village of Salem Lakes. She is the executive director of the Sharing Center in Trevor and serves on a variety of public interest boards and committees in Kenosha County.

Lakefront sculpture exhibit extended for one year

The temporary sculptures along Kenosha’s lakefront landscape will remain in place for another year as a result of planning efforts being thwarted by the pandemic.

Typically, the Sculpture Walk – HarborPark changes every two years. However, the current sculptures will instead remain until September 2022.

“It takes eight months to plan for the Sculpture Walk,” said Sculpture Walk Project Manager Natalie Strohm. “The critical early stages of that planning were impacted as a result of not knowing whether we would be able to gather to de-install the current exhibit and install new sculptures, along with other factors. It requires a great deal of in-person collaboration and physical labor to install the sculptures.”

The current temporary exhibit sculptures are:

  • “Flambay” by Ted Garner of Chicago, sponsored by Abatron
  • “Magic” by John Adduci of Chicago, sponsored by The Kloss Foundation
  • “Both Sides” by Maureen Gray of Interlochen, Michigan, sponsored by the Kenosha Community Foundation
  • “Newly Discovered” by Trenton Baylor of Caledonia, Wisconsin, sponsored by Snap-on Inc.
  • “Moose” by Paul Bobrowitz of Colgate, Wisconsin, sponsored by Uline
  • “Here” by Ruth Aizuss Migdal of Chicago, sponsored by Visit Kenosha
  • “Celestial Trio” by Bruce Niemi of Kenosha, sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Clifton Peterson
  • “On Balance” by Paul Bobrowitz of Colgate, Wisconsin, sponsored by Trish Petretti
  • “Xuberant!” by Craig Snyder of Plymouth, Minnesota, sponsored by John and Shawna Neal
  • “Twist” by Michael Young of Chicago, sponsored by Mary Tunkieicz
  • “Vietnam Veterans Memorial” by Bruce Niemi of Kenosha, sponsored by the City of Kenosha.

“Planning is underway now for the 2022-24 Sculpture Walk – HarborPark,” Strohm said. “This beautiful temporary public art enhances our lakefront and is enjoyed by visitors to Downtown Kenosha.”

The Arts Fund is a component fund of the Kenosha Community Foundation. The Sculpture Walk is the major fundraising effort of the Arts Fund, which provides grants to local art initiatives.

For more information about sponsoring a sculpture, email artsfund@kenoshafoundation.org.