Graham Kilmer
MKE County

Many COVID-19 Tests Returning Positive

Testing numbers are low, but a high percentage are positive for disease.

By - Aug 5th, 2022 05:50 pm
2019 Novel Coronavirus. Image by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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

To understand what is currently happening with COVID-19 in Milwaukee County right now, look at the rate of tests returning positive for the disease, according to Dr. Ben Weston, chief health policy advisor for Milwaukee County.

This percentage, called the positivity rate, is currently at 16.4%. The week prior it was 16.9%.

“This is the highest that we have seen since winter and lends support to what we are all seeing and feeling with seemingly more neighbors, family, and friends coming down with COVID than any other time in the pandemic,” Weston said. “With testing overall low, case rates are not reflecting the true burden of disease in the community. Now is the time to make sure that you are up to date on vaccine and booster and take precautions including wearing a high quality mask indoors.

The low rate of testing may account for what appears to be a plateau in new cases of COVID-19, according to the latest weekly report produced by epidemiologists, public health officials and faculty from the Medical College of Wisconsin and UW-Milwaukee. The report, which tracks COVID-19 in Milwaukee County shows there were 1,395 new cases reported this past week from July 27 – Aug. 2, down slightly from 1,524 the week prior.

There were 159 adults hospitalized with COVID-19 this past week, just higher than the 154 hospitalizations the week prior. There was one death due to COVID-19 reported this past week. There has been one death reported each week for the past two weeks.

Transmission of the virus spiked in mid-July, then receded to levels just on the border of community suppression of the disease. The county’s reproduction number, which measures how many people, on average, will be infected by a single case of the disease, was just below 1.0 as of the latest available data from July 20 – July 26. So fewer than one other person on average is being infected by each new case of the disease, supporting community suppression. But reproduction number is right on the edge, at 0.999.

The percentage of Milwaukee residents that have been vaccinated has not increased much in recent months. Currently, 60.8% of all county residents are completely vaccinated, and 59.1% of booster eligible residents (12 years and older) have received one, according to a countywide vaccination report.

Everyone that’s eligible should receive a booster, but they are especially important for people over 50, Weston said. “Study after study is showing that particularly for that age group, the second booster provides a substantial reduction in hospitalization and protection from death. As the most at risk population for severe disease, it is critical for this group to be as protected as possible.”

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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