Nicole Aimone, Editor-in-Chief
Last week, both Iowa and Richland counties reported cases of the P.1 COVID-19 variant, and officials are stressing COVID safety to avoid the further spread of this or other variants.
The P.1 variant, also called the Brazilian variant, was first discovered in Brazilian travelers earlier this year, and is classified as a “variant of concern” by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The CDC defines a variant of concerns as “a variant for which there is evidence of an increase in transmissibility, more severe disease (e.g., increased hospitalizations or deaths), significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination, reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failures”.
Officials in Richland County are urging residents to stay vigilant with COVID-19 safety measures, according to a press release from the department.
“With the identification of the P.1 variant in our community, it is very important that everyone continue to follow preventive measures. Wear a mask in public places, socially distance, wash your hands, avoid large gatherings—particularly if they are held indoors, and get the vaccine if you are eligible.”
The Iowa County Health Department is urging similar methods to prevent the further spread of the virus and its variants in the county, while saying finding a new strain present in the area wasn’t surprising.
“Unfortunately, finding a variant strain in our county is not unexpected. However, it is a good reminder that we must continue to stay the course with prevention measures we know work, such as mask wearing, physical distancing, avoiding large gatherings and washing our hands. We also need everyone who can get the vaccine to seek out vaccine and get vaccinated,” said Debbie Siegenthaler, Iowa County Health Department Director. For more information and data regarding variants, visit
According to Wisconsin Department of Health Services data, of the over 10,000 reported variants, about 30 of those cases are the P.1 strain.
In early April, Sauk County reported a case of the B.1.427 variant, also known as the California Variant.
Last week, Valley Sentinel reached out to Treemanisha Stewart, Sauk County Public Health officer for information regarding vaccination distribution in the county. Below are her responses.
Valley Sentinel: As availability increases and demand plateaus, do you foresee there being an excess of vaccines?
Treemanisha Stewart: Its possible but because there are time limits on the storage of the vaccine, vaccinators try to only order what they reasonably expect they would need.
VS: If so, does the county plan to adjust its distribution methods?
TS: SCPH is devising different ways to meet the public where there are to get vaccinated, ie community events, store fronts, etc. At this point we want to ensure that there are opportunities for everyone to be vaccinated.
VS: How confident are you that we will reach a herd immunity level of vaccinations in the county? Do you have an estimate of when that could happen?
TS: That’s what we are hopeful for, but time will tell. We would like to see 80% of our county vaccinated, but until then we will continue to encourage everyone to get vaccinated.
VS: What would you say to the people who are on the fence about getting the vaccine?
TS: Getting vaccinated will help keep you, your family, your community, and the economy healthy and safe. Not getting vaccinated leaves you and your family open to catching the virus and getting sick. By you and others around you getting vaccinated, we will be able to move forward, get the economy moving again, and get back to normal! The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Vaccine safety is a top priority. Every study, every phase, and every trial was reviewed by the FDA and a safety board, and there is continuous monitoring in place. If you’re concerned about side effects, I hear you. The likelihood of a severe side effect is less than 0.5%. When mild side effects occur, they are a normal sign your body is building protection to the virus, and most go away in a few days. By getting vaccinated, you can end the damage to the economy, prevent more illnesses and deaths in America, and eliminate and eradicate COVID-19.
Sauk County will offer a mass vaccination site, in partnership with the Wisconsin National Guard, 4-8 p.m. May 6 at E8795 Evergreen Lane in Baraboo.
The clinic will offer a first dose of the Moderna vaccine. There are no appointments or ID required. Vaccines will be distributed on a first come, first serve basis but vehicles with multiple people are welcome.
The clinic is prepared to vaccinate 600 people, with second dose vaccines appointments being set for June 3. Attendees will remain in their vehicles while being vaccinated and will be asked to self monitor for 15-20 minutes following vaccination.