COVID-19 Cases Decreasing in Milwaukee County
County saw half of all COVID-19 deaths in last three months.
Milwaukee County continues to experience a decrease in the number of daily new cases of COVID-19 after the most deadly spike in disease to date.
Darren Rausch, director of the Greenfield Health Department, is working with a team of epidemiologists and faculty from the Medical College of Wisconsin and UW-Milwaukee on a weekly report tracking COVID-19 locally, and he said “Lot’s of data indicators are improving.”
The county is continuing its gradual descent from the massive spike in disease this fall, and for the second week in a row, the transmission rate is below 1.0. This means each newly infected person is passing the disease on to less than one other person.
While the rates of disease are going down, Rausch said, “it’s important to remember that we still have significant illness deaths and hospitalizations occurring amongst county residents.”
And despite the consistent drop in daily new cases over the past two months, they are still significantly higher than they were in late summer and early fall.
“We’re seeing a sustained downward trend and that’s great to see,” said Rausch. “And we can take this as a glimmer of hope but we’re not out of the woods yet.”
The number of people accessing testing is much lower than it was in November. But in recent weeks, it has been holding steady. Meanwhile, the percent positivity, which measures what percentage of tests are coming back positive, has been steadily decreasing. Last week it was 7.1%. Two weeks ago it was 7.8%.
Percent positivity and transmission rate have been key indicators throughout the pandemic for understanding the local burden of COVID-19 in real-time.
While things are looking up, the new data on deaths in recent months shows the ghastly toll the latest spike took on the county. Between October 15th and January 15th there were 566 deaths in Milwaukee County due to COVID-19. This is approximately half of all deaths from COVID-19 that have occurred in the county since the start of the pandemic.
The rate of deaths during that period greatly surpassed the previous spike in deaths. During the three months from March 22 to June 22, there were 393 deaths from COVID-19.
A spatial map reflects the trends in COVID-19 mortality that had previously been borne out in the data. With a significant number of deaths occurring on the north and south sides of the City of Milwaukee, areas that are largely Black and Hispanic, respectively.
The latest data on COVID-19 mortality shows that American Indian and Alaskan Native residents now have the highest rate of death due to COVID-19 in Milwaukee County.
Other demographic patterns in the virus continue to hold. Young people have the most cases and the highest rate of disease, meanwhile, older people have the most deaths and hospitalizations. White people have the most cases and Hispanic people have the highest rate of disease.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Asian residents had the highest rate of hospitalization and death. It should have said American Indian and Alaskan Native or AIAN.
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