Graham Kilmer

Milwaukee County Suburbs Posting Record COVID-19 Case Counts

Public Health officer says personal decisions on mask wearing and social distancing can affect local disease rates.

By - Jul 24th, 2020 12:23 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.

Cases of COVID-19 continue to grow in Milwaukee County.

Milwaukee, like the rest of the state, is seeing huge numbers of new cases of COVID-19. And Darren Rausch, director of the Greenfield Health Department, said COVID cases in the county are growing “pretty, pretty rapidly.”

Since the beginning of June, the suburbs have had a higher transmission rate than the City of Milwaukee. And in recent weeks the suburbs have experienced their highest daily case counts throughout the entire pandemic.

The seven day rolling average for the suburbs is about 100 cases a day, according to a report released Thursday from an epidemiology team at the Medical College of Wisconsin that has been tracking the virus locally.

The City of Milwaukee is seeing a similar rate of increase, however, case numbers are still below the previous uptick in May, Rausch said.

In recent weeks, Milwaukee County and the state have been seeing huge numbers of new cases each day. For this reason, the doubling time for Milwaukee County, which measures how long it takes the total number of cases to double, has decreased. Whereas the county once had a doubling time of 68 days, it now has a doubling time of 48 days.

Of note, the transmission rate for Milwaukee County has recently dipped below 1.0. This means that we may see the number of new cases begin to decrease in the coming weeks, Rausch said.

Around Independence Day, the county saw a significant spike in transmission, with a transmission rate around 1.4, which means for every one person that got disease they infected, on average, more than one other person.

Despite record testing numbers, the percentage of tests coming back positive is holding steady. For the past two weeks the percent positive has been 8.4 percent. That indicator is often held up by public health experts as a real-time indicator for active disease spread.

Milwaukee County residents ages 18 to 39 continue to have the largest number of COVID-19 cases as well as the highest rate of new COVID-19 cases.

Rausch said personal decisions people are making about things like going to a party or social gathering are directly affecting the rate of disease in our community. He noted that recently there was a graduation party where more than a dozen of the attendees ending up catching COVID-19.

And Rausch noted, “We need to consider that the current rate of COVID-19 disease in our community is impacting decisions about what a return to school looks like.”

Adhering to guidelines for mask wearing and social distancing can have a significant impact on COVID-19 here in Milwaukee County, he said.

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Categories: Health

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