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Prominent Milwaukee Doctor Says COVID-19 Deaths Likely To Continue Despite Surge Possibly Flattening

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John Raymond
This slide prepared by the Medical College of Wisconsin, using state data, shows the COVID-19 disease burden in Wisconsin counties, ranging from last fall's peak (left) to this month's status (far right.)

A prominent Milwaukee doctor, John Raymond, said there is "very preliminary evidence" that the latest surge in COVID-19 cases is flattening or decelerating in Wisconsin. However, he said the death toll is likely to keep rising for a while. He added that state hospitals are nearly at capacity with a variety of patients.

Dr. John Raymond is President and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin. He spoke on Monday to the Greater Milwaukee Committee.

Raymond said that in some states, the COVID-19 pandemic is getting worse.

And in Wisconsin, he said, people keep dying.

"Deaths continue to rise and probably will continue to rise for the next several weeks. I do want to emphasize the burden of COVID-19 disease remains very high in Wisconsin," Raymond said.

Fifty-six counties in Wisconsin, including Milwaukee, are rated as having a "very high" disease burden. The other 16 counties are listed as "high."

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Dr. John Raymond speaks to the Greater Milwaukee Committee on Monday.

Furthermore, Raymond said Wisconsin hospitals are nearing capacity, even though some increase in patients is due to non-COVID-19 cases.

"We are seeing a return of clinical volumes back to pre-pandemic levels. There is a pent-up demand for deferred and delayed care in surgeries that is being met right now," Raymond said. "What that means, though, is we are really perilously close to reaching capacity in our healthcare system. So, everything we can do to minimize the burden on our healthcare providers and healthcare systems is good, and that would include getting flu shots if they become available here."

What can also be helpful, he said, would be if more people get vaccinated against COVID-19. Raymond said Wisconsin is no longer outshining other states.

"We're now 27th in vaccinations – either as measured by one dose or completing the course," Raymond said. "Recall that in January, February, March, we were actually leading the country, and we were in the top five in terms of completed doses. So, we have some work to do here."

Still, Raymond said there could be some good news if the number of new cases continues to stagnate or drop a little. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the seven-day average of COVID-19 cases dropped below 1,500 per day for the first time in several days. The question is whether this is a result of a weekend lag in reporting new cases.

Raymond said the numbers bear close watching all week.

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