COVID-19 Cases Rise Again
Disease surge that began in midsummer shows no sign of receding.
In late August, the spike in COVID-19 cases that began in July started to taper off. Looking at cases mapped onto a graph, the steep ascent that began the month previous had turned into a plateau.
Now, it appears the plateau was in fact a false summit. The latest data from a weekly report mapping COVID-19 locally indicates that the daily number of new cases began another sharp rise in early September.
The last time daily cases of COVID-19 were this high was January, before the COVID-19 vaccine was available on a wide scale to the general public.
The midsummer surge has been mirrored nearly identically among the daily number of new cases in children. This past week, there were 523 cases of COVID-19 among children 18 years old and younger. The previous week there were 499.
Children younger than 12 years old are still not eligible for the vaccine. Since late July, their proportion of all cases in Milwaukee has grown from 20% to approximately 33%, where it’s been the past two weeks.
286 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 during the past week, and 12 people died due to the disease.
Hospitalizations and deaths are considered lagging indicators of the disease because of how long it takes the virus to make someone severely ill. They have, throughout the pandemic, trailed surges in cases and transmission.
Then the surge began. This latest surge, public health officials have consistently said, is driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant of the disease and by the large portion of the public that remains unvaccinated. In Milwaukee County, as of this past week, still only 61% of residents eligible for the vaccine are fully vaccinated according to a countywide vaccination report.
The latest available countywide COVID-19 transmission rate spiked this past week relative to the week prior. This rate is a measure of how many people, on average, will catch COVID-19 from a single confirmed case, spiked this past week.
The transmission rate from Sept. 8 to 14 was 1.3. This means for each new case of COVID-19, 1.3 additional people, on average, will become infected with the disease. The transmission rate the week prior was below 1.0.
The positivity rate, which measures what percentage of tests come back positive for COVID-19, was 8.5% countywide. In the city, it was 9.7% and in the suburbs it was 6.5%.
COVID-19 has produced disparate outcomes among racial and ethnic groups in the county since the beginning of the pandemic. Black county residents continue to experience a level of hospitalization that is disproportionately high relative to their share of the county’s population. Black residents also recently surpassed Hispanic residents in cumulative COVID-19 cases, something that has not occurred since the early days of the pandemic. And Hispanic residents continue to have the highest rate of COVID-19 disease, and American Indian and Alaskan Native Residents have the highest rate of death.
Racial and ethnic disparities have also shown up in COVID-19 vaccination. Asian residents have the highest rate of vaccination, followed by white residents and American Indian and Alaskan Native residents (who have the same level of vaccination), then Hispanic residents and Black residents. The latest vaccination report shows that vaccination is increasing the most among Black residents, beginning in late August, followed by Hispanic residents.
COVID-19 vaccination rates continue to track with age. As a population group gets older, a greater percentage of its members are vaccinated.
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