Graham Kilmer
MKE County

102 Hospitalized With COVID-19 Last Week

The past week saw more than 1,500 new cases.

By - Aug 13th, 2021 05:45 pm
Milwaukee County daily number of COVID-19 cases.

Milwaukee County daily number of COVID-19 cases.

The latest COVID-19 surge led to more than 100 hospitalizations in Milwaukee County during the past week.

From August 4th to the 10th there were 1,565 new cases of COVID-19 during the past week. This number is slightly lower than the week prior. The last time the county had weekly case rates this high was January.

Among children 18 years old and younger, there were 355 new cases during the past week.

This is according to a weekly report tracking COVID-19 locally developed by epidemiologists and faculty from the Medical College of Wisconsin and UW-Milwaukee.

Notably, hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are increasing, according to public health officials. Darren Rausch, director of the Greenfield Health Department, said in an email releasing the report that there were 102 hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Milwaukee County, 10% of them were children under the age of 18. The past week brings the total number of current hospitalizations to 176.

Deaths remain low. Though Dr. Ben Weston, director of medical services for Milwaukee County, said that the rolling average for deaths was increasing.

Both hospitalizations and deaths are lagging indicators of disease, because of the time it takes for the virus to cause severe illness and death. Throughout the pandemic, each surge begins with a rise in cases, followed by rising hospitalizations, then rising disease.

But vaccination has proven extremely effective at preventing hospitalization and death, as well as disease. Public health officials have regularly stated that the latest surge is being driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant and the large percentage of the population that is still unvaccinated.

Local public health officials are working out how to accurately measure what percentage of cases countywide are unvaccinated or vaccinated, Rausch said during a media briefing Tuesday. But in Greenfield, he noted, 70% of cases during the past week were among unvaccinated people.

Some of the cases among vaccinated people, referred to as “breakthrough cases,” are among “undervaccinated” individuals. Meaning they’ve only received one dose in a two-dose vaccine series.

County residents aged 80 years or older have the highest rate of vaccination in the county, and they also have experienced the smallest increase in COVID-19 in recent weeks, Rausch said during a briefing Tuesday.

The latest data on transmission in Milwaukee County does indicate a slight improvement from last week. The latest data covers July 28th to Aug. 3rd, and it shows the county had a transmission rate of 1.14. This means that each new case of COVID-19 will pass the disease, on average, to 1.14 other people. The week prior, the data was showing a transmission rate of 1.7.

The positivity rate, which measures how many tests come back positive for COVID-19 in the county, is holding relatively steady. This past week the positivity rate was 10.1%. The week before it was 10.6%.

A report on vaccination in the county shows little improvement in recent weeks. There is a slight rise in the number of daily doses of vaccine being administered. But the overall vaccination rate has improved very little. Only 56.8% of county residents that are eligible for the vaccine — those 12 years or older — have been completely vaccinated.

In Milwaukee County, according to the vaccination report, Asian residents have the highest vaccination rate, followed by white residents. But American Indian and Alaskan Native residents have a rising rate of vaccination that is on track to surpass white residents. Hispanic residents and Black residents have the lowest rates or vaccination in that order.

Black residents also continue to make up a disproportionate number of hospitalizations countywide, relative to their share of the county’s population. They recently surpassed American Indian and Alaskan Native residents. Hispanic residents still have the highest rate of COVID-19, and American Indian and Alaskan Native residents have the highest rate of death.

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

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Categories: Health

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