Graham Kilmer

County Seeing Uptick in Positive COVID-19 Tests

Young people are seeing an increase in cases of COVID-19.

By - Jun 26th, 2020 04:57 pm
2019 Novel Coronavirus. Image by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

2019 Novel Coronavirus. Image by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Milwaukee County is starting to see a statistically significant increase in the number of COVID-19 tests that come back positive.

This metric, percent-positive, has been held up by public health officials as an important one to watch throughout the pandemic. In the middle of May it spiked, then started to steadily decrease, though now, it appears, to be headed back up.

Darren Rausch, director of the Greenfield Health Department, has been working with a team of epidemiologists from the Medical College of Wisconsin to track COVID-19 locally. In the latest report produced by the team, the most recent 14 day trend shows percent-positive “is increasing and that is a statistically significant increase.”

According to Milwaukee County’s COVID-19 dashboard. There has been a sharp spike in percent positive in recent days. On Tuesday, June 23 Milwaukee County saw the percent of tests coming back positive jump to 13 percent. And the following day, they saw a percent-positive of 21 percent.

The average percentage-positive for tests between June 17 and June 23 was 8.9 percent. During that same period there were 60 hospitalizations and seven deaths.

The transmission rate, which tracks how many people a single case of COVID-19 spreads the disease to, on average, is also up slightly. In both the city and the county the transmission rate has recently gone slightly above 1.0. A transmission rate below 1.0 means the disease is being suppressed in the community.

This “nudge” upward in the transmission rate is “a little more pronounced in the county than in the city, but the trends are generally the same,” Rausch said.

However, some metrics continue to trend in a healthy direction. Deaths, for instance, continue to trend down. The peak for deaths was in early April, with another slight peak in May.

And as of June 23, the daily case counts are also trending down. However, the declining daily count in Milwaukee County is largely due to the City of Milwaukee where there is a “pronounced decrease” in cases, Rausch said, whereas the change in cases in the suburban populations is “a little less noticeable.”

The highest daily count was on May 18, when the county saw 344 cases identified.

Unfortunately, the rates of disease continue to be highest in the older populations, who are most at risk for COVID-19. But the county is seeing the largest increases in cases among people that are aged 18 to 39. As well as notable increases among those under 18.

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Categories: Health

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