Graham Kilmer
MKE County

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Going Up

Hospitalizations rising among every age group in county; higher death rate may follow.

By - Jul 28th, 2020 07:44 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.

Hospitalizations of those with COVID-19 are rising in Milwaukee County, and it appears deaths are following.

Public health officials often refer to these two COVID-19 phenomena as lagging indicators. Because it can take weeks for COVID-19 to send someone to the hospital after catching the virus, and it can take more than a month or two for the virus to kill.

Right now, the county is seeing hospitalizations nearly double the low point experienced at the end of June.

In late May, shortly after a spike in cases and deaths, and as bars and restaurants around the state started reopening, Dr. Ben Weston, director of Medical Services, laid out the progression of COVID-19, saying “And so probably the first thing we see there are the uptick in cases, and then we start to see an uptick in hospitalizations and then eventually we start seeing an uptick in deaths.”

In late June and early July Milwaukee County and the state began to see huge increases in their cases and spikes in transmission rates. Both of which were largely being driven by young people, aged 18-39.

Unfortunately, the costly outcomes of increased transmission and daily case counts may be coming to bear. Milwaukee County is beginning to see hospitalizations and deaths go up.

In late June, the county had approximately 89 hospitalizations. On Tuesday, Weston said the county currently had 145. “We are seeing an upward trend that does seem to be a consistent trend in hospitalizations,” he said.

County residents in all age groups, even those younger than 18, are seeing increased hospitalizations. But while it is young people driving this most recent surge in the disease, it continues to be the county’s oldest population that have the highest rates of hospitalization and death.

Recently, data on statewide active hospitalizations provided by the Wisconsin Hospital Association has been unavailable because of changes to reporting requirements from the US Department of Health and Human Services, which went into effect on July 22.

In early July, just after transmission spiked in Milwaukee County, and by which time residents aged 18-39 were having the highest rate of disease, Weston warned: “We know that young people do not live in isolation.” Despite the comparatively low death rate for young people with COVID-19, they still often interact with older and at-risk members of the community, for whom COVID-19 can be quite deadly.

Weston said public health officials are “closely monitoring the apparent gradual increase in deaths.” Looking at the county’s dashboard tracking COVID-19 locally, the seven-day average for deaths in Milwaukee County has been trending up for approximately the last two weeks.

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More about the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Categories: Health, MKE County

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