Graham Kilmer

Milwaukee County Currently Suppressing COVID-19

New cases continue to go down as R-value is below 1.

By - Aug 13th, 2020 08:39 pm
Wisconsin National Guard individuals man a COVID-19 testing facility in Bay View. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Wisconsin National Guard individuals man a COVID-19 testing facility in Bay View. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Similar to statewide trends, new cases of COVID-19 are going down following a massive spike in July.

In the city of Milwaukee, daily new cases of COVID-19 are dropping approximately to where they were before the spike in July. In Milwaukee County’s suburbs, however, daily new cases have still not dropped to where they were before the spike.

Darren Rausch, director of the City of Greenfield Health Department, said, “The suburban communities… have had a lot of disease since July first and that trend continues to hold pretty steady but on a little bit of a downward trajectory.”

Rausch has been working with a team of epidemiologists from the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) to track the disease locally.

Transmission rates countywide remain below 1.0, which means that each new identified case of COVID-19 is likely to, on average, transmit the virus to less than one person (the figure is the reproductive rate or R-value). The current transmission rate indicates the county is suppressing the virus. The transmission rate in the city of Milwaukee is below 1.0 as is the rate in the suburbs. It got as high as 1.4 in the past month.

The growth rate of the virus is also slowing down slightly. In the latest report from the MCW team, the doubling time increased by five days from the previous week and now stands at 60 days. It is less than 40 days for the state. The doubling rate measures how long it takes the number of cases to double. “Longer doubling times are better,” says a legend on the graph. 

Both testing and the percentage of tests coming back positive are down. This past week, the share of tests that came back positive was 7.0 percent, down from last week’s 7.4 percent.

While the trends in cases and transmission are positive, seeing testing numbers go down is not. Widespread testing is the most effective way to track and isolate disease in the community. “We must be cautious with our optimism,” said Dr. Ben Weston, Milwaukee County director of emergency medical services.

The demographics of COVID-19 transmission have not changed much. Young people continue to have the highest number of cases and the highest rates of disease.

And the county’s Hispanic population continues to have the most cases of any sub-population in the county.

Last week, Urban Milwaukee reported that there were hotspots of disease on the city’s South Side and in the county’s southern suburbs, notably Oak Creek. That remains the same, however, there is also a growing hotspot on the Northwestern Side of the city.

A full copy of the report is available on Urban Milwaukee.

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Categories: Health

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