Graham Kilmer

Milwaukee County’s Daily COVID-19 Case Total Rising

Contact tracing shows the summer is melting away physical distancing requirements.

By - Jul 9th, 2020 07:13 pm
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2019 Novel Coronavirus. Image by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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

Cases of COVID-19 continue to climb in Milwaukee County, as the latest data is showing a growing trend in the daily case rate.

Ann Christiansen, director of the North Shore Health Department, said Thursday during a press briefing that cases are rising because of increased transmission but also increased testing. She said the county has seen a “significant increase” in the number of new cases confirmed each day over the past few weeks.

“And that really translates for us in public health as 75 to 100 new cases each day that we’re responding to,” she said.

The transmission rate in the county, which measures how many people on average a single case of COVID-19 infects, continues to hold above 1.0. It’s currently at approximately 1.2 said Dr. Ben Weston, director of medical services for Milwaukee County. That means the disease is not being suppressed in the community.

“We’re concerned about transmission and we’re concerned about increasing cases,” Christiansen said.

The good news is that deaths continue to trend downwards. Between July 1 and July 7 there were zero new deaths in Milwaukee County related to COVID-19. This is likely attributable to a combination of factors. The growth in cases is largely being driven by young people who are less likely to develop serious symptoms or die. And health care systems have more experience now in treating the virus.

It’s important to note, as Weston did last week, that young people do not live in isolation. And come in contact with at-risk populations daily in public and in their friends and family.

As cases have gone up in recent weeks, contact tracers have noticed that the number of close contacts has also risen. As stay-at-home measures are rolled back people have been out and about more. Tracers continue to see contacts in workplaces, but are more and more seeing contacts from social and family gatherings and from travel out of state.

The percentage of tests that came back positive between July 1 and July 7 was 7.8 percent. Slightly below the average percent positive since the start of the pandemic locally, 8.9 percent. The statewide 14-day average is 5.79 percent.

The disease also continues to disproportionately affect members of Milwaukee’s Hispanic or Latinx community, the group has 2.3 times the cases as the next group.

Public health officials and experts continue to say that even as things open up, and the allure of summer draws people out of their homes, it’s important to physical distance, limit contact with people outside of your home, wash your hands and wear a mask in public places.

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Categories: Health

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