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Milwaukee Health Officials Keeping An Eye On COVID-19 Case Uptick

Lubo Ivanko
States across the country are seeing increases in COVID-19 numbers, something Milwaukee health officials say can be combatted with increased mask wearing and more residents getting vaccinated.

Milwaukee health officials are voicing early concern about a modest local uptick in COVID-19 cases, and a broader increase over many other parts of the U.S.

Dr. Ben Weston is with the Medical College of Wisconsin and the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management.

Dr. Ben Weston of the Medical College of Wisconsin and the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management spoke to reporters Tuesday about an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

"In the United States, 30 out of 50 states reported an increase in new daily cases of COVID this week, compared to last week. We saw the first national increase in cases in nearly two months. Locally in Milwaukee County, we're seeing a subtle but stable increase in cases over the last week, from a low of about 60 cases per day, to now around 77 new cases per day. These are small changes, but appear to be persistent. And we know that with the more contagious variants widespread in our country and likely in our community, an increase is cases is likely," he said.

Weston said there are several coronavirus variants among the public.

"The most prevalent seems to be the B.1.1. 7, or often called the UK variant, and we know that one is more contagious and it appears that one is also more severe. Having a variant like that at the same time as a spike in the community, as we've seen in many countries in Europe and throughout the world, it can be very dangerous," said Weston.

Milwaukee Health Department Commissioner Kirsten Johnson said if data on benchmarks, known as gating criteria, keep getting worse, the city could have to go back to tougher limits on sporting venues, bars and restaurants.

Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson spoke during Tuesday's news briefing.

Benchmarks, Johnson said, such as disease burden, "is the rate of COVID-19 cases for 100,000 people over the course of seven days." She continued, "Last week, we were at 45.9 cases, which is a moderate transmission, and this week, it has increased to over 65. The percent test positivity over the previous seven days last week was 2.4 . This week was 3.6. So, we're hovering in between those moderate and substantial transmission. Again, watching this cautiously, and if we have to we will roll back some of the things we opened up."

Johnson and other health officials said the best way to prevent any major increase in COVID-19 is for more people to be vaccinated, continue to wear a mask in public and practice social distancing.

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