Graham Kilmer
MKE County

COVID-19 Holding At High Levels

243 people hospitalized in county, hospital beds at 95% capacity, staff shortages an issue.

By - Sep 1st, 2021 10:41 am
Milwaukee County daily number of COVID-19 cases

Milwaukee County daily number of COVID-19 cases

In Milwaukee County COVID-19 is holding steady at a high level.

Since early August, the number of daily new cases in the county has plateaued. But the number of new cases is holding at a level not experienced since January, when COVID-19 vaccine was scarce.

“COVID-19 is still very active in our community,” said Darren Rausch, director of the Greenfield Health Department.

Cases among children continue to rise, and Dr Ben Weston, Chief Health Policy Advisor for the county, said that if Milwaukee goes the way of the state, the new plateau among adults may soon end with rising cases.

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 remain very high. Currently, there are 248 people hospitalized in Milwaukee County with COVID-19, Weston said. He noted that health care systems in Milwaukee, and across the country, are facing staffing shortages. “Increasing hospitalizations coupled with staffing shortages is not a good combination.”

Intensive Care Units are currently at approximately 85% capacity, Weston said, and floor beds are at 95% capacity.

A recent report shows that in approximately the past month, there were 298 hospitalizations for COVID-19 in the county. Among those hospitalizations 27 were children.

The report is produced weekly by epidemiologists and faculty from the Medical College of Wisconsin and UW-Milwaukee along with Rausch.

The report shows there were six deaths due to COVID-19 last week in the county. The week prior there were nine deaths.

The transmission rate countywide, which measures how many people on average will be infected by a single confirmed case of COVID-19, was just below 1.0 last week. A number below 1.0 could indicate community suppression of the disease. In the city the transmission rate was .997; in the suburbs it was 1.042.

The city of Milwaukee Health Department continues to report an “extreme transmission” of COVID-19 within the city, based upon the department’s gating criteria for the disease. The current rate of disease is approximately 244.7 cases per 100,000 people.

The county’s positivity rate, which measures what percent of tests come back positive for COVID-19, was 8.8% countywide last week. The week prior it was 9.3%.

Health officials have consistently attributed the latest surge in disease to the highly transmissible Delta variant and the significant chunk of the population that remains unvaccinated. Only 58.2% of all county residents eligible for the disease have been completely vaccinated.

Among city residents eligible for the vaccine, only 51.7% are vaccinated. In the suburbs 67.9% of eligible residents are vaccinated, according to a countywide vaccination report.

The average daily number of doses being administered countywide did rise in August relative to July. The percent vaccinated continues to rise among all age groups in the county, though at a far slower pace than back in the spring. 

Asian county residents have the highest rate of vaccination, followed by white residents, though American Indian and Alaskan Native residents are on pace to have the second highest rate of vaccination in the county. Hispanic residents and Black residents continue to have the lowest rate of vaccination in the county.

Black residents have made up a disproportionate number of hospitalizations relative to their share of the county’s population for much of the pandemic. Hispanic residents have had the highest rate of COVID-19. American Indian and Alaskan Native residents have the highest rate of death due to COVID-19.

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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