Graham Kilmer
MKE County

COVID-19 Case Burden Remains High

Despite the disease trending down at nationally.

By - Oct 6th, 2021 10:26 am
2019 Novel Coronavirus. Image by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

2019 Novel Coronavirus. Image by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nationally, new cases of COVID-19 are trending down, but in the Milwaukee area, that is not the case.

That’s what Darren Rausch, director of the Greenfield Health Department said Tuesday during a countywide media briefing.

Rausch is part of a team of epidemiologists and faculty from the Medical College of Wisconsin and UW-Milwaukee that put together a weekly report tracking COVID-19 locally.

The latest report shows that the county had 1,388 cases of COVID-19 from Sept. 22 – 28. This is a decrease from the week prior, but is still a high level of disease. The current case burden is similar to what the county saw in December and January when the COVID-19 vaccines were not widely available.

During that same week at the end of September, there were 444 cases among children. The week prior there were 523. The percentage of cases in children has grown significantly during this latest surge in disease, which began in July, and has been holding steady above 30%.

Hospitalizations and deaths have risen, according to the latest report, which showed 295 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the county and 16 deaths.

Hospitalizations and deaths are considered lagging indicators of disease because of how long it takes the virus to cause severe illness. Increased hospitalizations and deaths have always followed surges in disease throughout the pandemic.

Along with the slight decrease in case burden, there was a slight decrease in the transmission rate, which measures how many people on average will contract COVID-19 from a single confirmed case. The most recent data shows a rate of .96 in the county. The week prior the rate was 1.3. A rate below 1.0 would typically indicate community suppression of the disease.

The positivity rate, which measures what percentage of tests come back positive for COVID-19, was 7.6% countywide last week.

Nearly 62% of county residents eligible for the vaccine were completely vaccinated by the end of September, according to a countywide vaccination report.

Racial and ethnic disparities have shown up in COVID-19 outcomes and vaccination in Milwaukee County.

Black county residents continue to be hospitalized at a rate that is disproportionately high, relative to their share of the population. Hispanics have had the highest rate of disease, and American Indian and Alaskan Natives have had the highest rate of death.

Asian residents have the highest rate of vaccination, followed by American Indian and Alaskan Native Residents, then white residents, then Hispanic residents then Black residents. Vaccination among black residents began to significantly increase in September.

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

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Categories: Health, MKE County

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