Graham Kilmer
MKE County

Rapid Increase of COVID-19 in Milwaukee

Transmission rate and positive testing rate shoot back up.

By - Oct 16th, 2020 03:27 pm
Milwaukee County Daily number of COVID-19 cases.

Milwaukee County Daily number of COVID-19 cases.

Cases of COVID-19 in Milwaukee County are rising rapidly.

The rolling seven-day average of new cases in Milwaukee County has been anywhere between 300 and 350 new cases every day over the past week.

New cases continue to climb and will soon eclipse the numbers seen during previous peaks in the summer and spring. The daily new case average is an important number to remember, said Darren Rausch, director of the greenfield health department, because “it’s higher than any other time during the pandemic.”

All over the state, and in Milwaukee County, cases have been climbing since the end of summer. Statewide records for positive cases in a single day were shattered many times over during this time. But last week, there was a sign that the rising cases may begin to wane locally.

Last week, the county’s transmission rate was below 1.0, so for every new case of COVID-19, that person was passing it on to less than one other person. Thus, the disease was being suppressed, but only momentarily. The latest data shows the county’s transmission rate is back above 1.0. Especially in the City of Milwaukee, where the current transmission rate is higher than in the suburban communities.

This data comes from a weekly report put together by a team of epidemiologists at the Medical College of Wisconsin and faculty from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee that is tracking the disease locally.

That report shows that the city of Milwaukee has already surpassed the last peak, in early July, with its daily new-case numbers. And that the suburbs are experiencing the “highest rate of COVID over any point of the last seven months,” said Rausch, who has been working with the team and the county’s Unified Emergency Operations Center.

In the past week, the positivity rate for both the city and the county have shot up. The city’s rate is 10.0% and the county is 10.2% (both are still less than half’s rate). Testing has been going back up, after precipitously dropping from mid to late-summer. But much of the city continues to be under-tested, despite large swaths of the city continuing to be hotspots for COVID-19.

During a media briefing Thursday, Rausch once again noted that testing is available and encouraged people take advantage of it. “Testing is the true and best way to know your disease status,” he said.

White people still have the most cases, meanwhile, Hispanic people continue to have the highest rate of COVID-19. And Black people still have the highest rate of hospitalization and death.

The driver of disease in the city and in the county continues to be adults, particularly adults aged 24-39. Meanwhile, cases among children, 18 and under, have remained stable. This, Rausch said, shows that the current outbreak is not being driven by children or schools.

Read the weekly report here. And the children’s report here.

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More about the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Categories: Health, MKE County

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