Graham Kilmer
MKE County

COVID-19 Increasing In Milwaukee

COVID-19 data shows potential for continued increase in disease. Vaccination, boosters key to what happens next.

By - Oct 14th, 2022 06:11 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.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently raised the COVID-19 community risk level for Milwaukee County to medium, and new data collected by local public health officials indicates the county may continue to see its disease burden increasing.

The CDC assessment is based on the number of new cases, hospital admissions and healthcare capacity. The latest weekly report tracking the disease in Milwaukee County shows that every indicator of disease is currently pointing to an increasing disease burden in the area.

Darren Rausch, director of the Greenfield Health Department, works on the weekly report with local epidemiologists, public health officials and faculty from the Medical College of Wisconsin and UW-Milwaukee. He released it to public health colleagues Friday in an email, and said, “countywide case data shows COVID-19 data trending in the wrong direction for all indicators listed below. These increases bear closer assessment in the coming weeks because it may be reflective of future increases in cases and more widespread disease transmission throughout the county.”

There were 636 new cases of COVID-19 among county residents between Oct. 5-11. This is up from the previous week, which had 602 new cases. Among the new cases this week, 138 were children, up from 125 the week prior.

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are also up, with 109 this past week, compared to 99 the week prior. There were three deaths reported. The week prior there were zero reported deaths.

The positivity rate went up only slightly, from 9.2% to 9.1%. This follows a more significant jump the week prior when the rate went up nearly a whole percentage point in a week. It’s also possible that the rate has been slightly diluted by an increase in the number of people seeking testing. Rausch noted, “It is important to remember that this report reflects only positive PCR laboratory tests and does not include rapid antigen tests or home tests. PCR testing has been up over the past few weeks.”

The percentage of all county residents that have been fully vaccinated is currently 61.4%, up from 61.3% the week prior. The percentage of people eligible for booster shots that have received one also went up, from 58% to 58.3%.

Dr. Ben Weston, chief health policy advisor for Milwaukee County, held a briefing with local media this week to spread the word that “Maintaining immunity at a population level is key to moving forward to living our lives and avoiding future surges from the pandemic.”

That a new variant will become dominant, leading to a new surge in disease, is a certainty, Weston said. “We cannot ignore substantially rising levels throughout much of Europe, where both cases and hospitalizations are increasing as the latest variants jockey for front-runner status,” he said.

This, he explained, is why it’s critical that anyone 12 years and older that are three months out from their last dose get boosted. New bivalent boosters, as they are called, produce immunity targeted at both the original COVID-19 variant and the highly contagious subvariants known as Omicron.

“The new bivalent COVID-19 vaccine is currently available at many pharmacies, local health departments, and other health care providers,” Rausch said, “vaccines, at this point, should be readily available in many locations.”

The weekly report, children’s report and countywide vaccination report are available on Urban Milwaukee.

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Categories: Health, MKE County

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