COVID-19 Hospitalizations Rising in State
Milwaukee's rise may have hit a plateau, but low vaccination rate continues to cause state and local surge.
Across the state hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are increasing, while in Milwaukee County the rise in the disease might be starting to plateau.
Statewide, the latest COVID-19 surge, driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant, is not abating, as the seven-day average for daily new cases continues its steady rise. In the Milwaukee area there are signs that the levels of disease are stabilizing, albeit at high levels.
During a media briefing Tuesday, Dr. Ben Weston, director of medical services for Milwaukee County, said, “We are starting to see a bit of a plateauing, or even a slight downtrend in our cases.” He added, “Now it’s too early to say if this will be sustained.”
Darren Rausch, director of the Greenfield Health Department, who leads the county’s Epidemiology Intelligence Team tracking the disease locally, said the current level of disease is higher than the county experienced during the early months of the pandemic. “This is notable because we have vaccine now.”
A major factor in the surging disease is the unique transmissibility of the Delta variant, and the significant percentage of the population that remains unvaccinated. Rausch previously reported that in his own city, Greenfield, the majority of cases, approximately 70%, are being traced back to unvaccinated individuals.
In Milwaukee County, only 56.8% of residents eligible for the vaccine — those 12 years or older — are fully vaccinated. The county is doing better and is only slightly behind the state, which has 60.9% of all adults 18 years or older fully vaccinated. But neither number is high enough to achieve herd immunity.
While the Milwaukee numbers may be the first signs of a peak in the surge, the second-order effects of rising cases have begun taking their toll. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 continues to increase in Milwaukee County and statewide.
Hospitalizations are considered a lagging indicator of disease because of the time it takes for someone with COVID-19 to become seriously ill.
Statewide, there are 683 people hospitalized with COVID-19; 22 of them are in Intensive Care Units, according to data from the Wisconsin Healthcare Association. During the past seven days, 158 people have been hospitalized.
In Milwaukee County, there are now 190 people hospitalized with COVID-19, Weston said during the media briefing. He explained, “That’s 10 times what we saw about a month ago.”
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