Graham Kilmer

County Seeing Downward COVID-19 Trend

Major indicators show disease declining in Milwaukee County.

By - Aug 28th, 2020 04:11 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 continues to see a downward trend in its cases of COVID-19.

The trends for both adults and children under 18 mirror one another, with peaks in July and now the downward trend in daily new cases. Both are also seeing a downward trend in their positive case rates.

However, among children, as with adults, there is a difference in COVID-19 cases by age. Kids 15-18 have the most cases and highest rates of COVID-19 for children in the county.

This is likely due, said Darren Rausch, director of the Greenfield Health Department, to increased opportunities for activities and socialization with others where they are spreading the disease. Rausch has been working with a team of epidemiologists from the Medical College of Wisconsin to track COVID-19 locally since the start of the pandemic.

The positive case rate is higher for children right now than for adults. Last week, the percent of tests that came back positive for COVID-19 among adults in the county was 4.9 percent, the lowest it’s been in months. The overall positive case rate since the start of the pandemic is 8 percent. For children, the current positive case rate is 6.1 percent, and the overall since the beginning of the pandemic is 10.2 percent.

The 14-day-average for positive case rates is showing a “significant” downward trend, Rausch said.

Unfortunately, the number of people getting tested for COVID-19 is going down. “We still have more testing capacity than we have individuals seeking out testing,” said Dr. Ben Weston, director of emergency medical services for Milwaukee County. 

To maintain the positive momentum in the county, Weston said, at a minimum, everyone that falls into one of three categories must get tested. These are: anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, everyone that has close contact with someone with COVID-19 and anyone that’s been instructed by a healthcare provider or public health official to get tested.

While disease seems to be going down in the county, the level of disease in the suburbs seems to be holding steady, Rausch said, “we haven’t quite come down to the same level in the city of Milwaukee.”

“A steady rate is better than an increasing rate,” he said. “But there still is a lot of opportunity for COVID to be transmitted in our community.”

Countywide, in the suburbs and in the city, the reproductive rate for COVID-19 has remained below one for the past three weeks. That means that every positive case of COVID-19 will, on average, transmit the virus to less than one other person. It also means the disease is being suppressed in Milwaukee.

All these data points taken together are promising. But, Rausch said “there still is a lot of opportunity for COVID to be transmitted in our community.”

Deaths are holding steady with an average of one to two deaths a day. And 18-39 years olds remain the population with the most cases and the highest rate of disease.

The doubling time in Milwaukee County right now is 84 days. Which means it will take 84 days for the number of cases to double in the county. A growing doubling time suggests a slow down in growth of disease. The doubling time in the state is 41 days. The doubling time for Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington (WOW) counties is 46 days.

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Categories: Health

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