COVID-19 Upward Trend Continues
After trending down throughout December, cases are on the rise.
The latest information on COVID-19 trends in Milwaukee County indicates, for the second week in a row, that the disease’s spread is accelerating again in the county.
A team of epidemiologists and staff from the Medical College of Wisconsin and UW-Milwaukee produce a weekly report tracking the virus locally. Darren Rausch, director of the Greenfield Health Department works with the team, and said Thursday, “The data continues to support a continued increase.”
This, he added, could be due to a testing increase before the holidays, or because of increased circulation of the disease. More likely, though, is that it is a combination of both.
The latest surge in disease peaked in November, higher than ever before. Since then, it has steadily decreased. But since the holidays the number of daily new cases has been rising. And any cases from the end of December would certainly be starting to show now, Rausch said.
The transmission rate in the county has been above 1.0 since before Christmas. That number means that for every new case identified, one or more additional people are being infected. In order to suppress the virus, the transmission rate needs to drop below 1.0. The high transmission rate has been most pronounced in the county’s suburbs.
Testing is currently way down relative to the number of tests being performed every day in November. Leading up to the holidays testing went up, but in the weeks that followed, testing dropped again.
But the positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that come back positive for COVID-19 has dropped. Two weeks ago it was 11.5%. This past week it was 9.6%. In explaining the positivity rate, Rausch cautioned that some of data from the past week is not in yet, suggesting the positivity rate could change. The state average continues to be above 30%.
White people have the most cases. Hispanic people have the highest incidence rate of COVID-19.
Rausch noted that the county is seeing an increase in COVID-19 among its Asian-American population. The latest report shows that Asian-American residents now have the highest rate of hospitalization due to COVID-19.
Black county residents still have the highest death rate due to COVID-19.
Correction: A previous version of the story incorrectly stated that Asian residents had the highest rate of hospitalization. It should have said American Indian and Alaskan Native residents (AIAN).
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