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Wisconsin reports increased number of COVID-19 cases, though Omicron variant not detected

Novel Covid 19 Corona Virus Strain. Delta Variant 3d Illustratio
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State health officials are again voicing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic in Wisconsin. However, the recently discovered, highly publicized, and apparently fast-spreading Omicron variant has not been reported in Wisconsin.

The Omicron variant has been found in Minnesota.

On Thursday, the Department of Health Services said not only did Wisconsin recently top 9,000 deaths due to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, but DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake said a few thousand of new coronavirus cases are being added each day.

"These are numbers we haven't seen since last December," Timberlake told the news media.

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Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake speaks during a media briefing on Thursday.

Timberlake said the big problem right now is the Delta variant of the virus, which first started causing problems this year. She said that variant is found in 99% of the virus samples that the state's laboratory partners evaluate.

"The reality is that Delta is that much more contagious. And because we had some groups of people 65 and over who were highly, highly vaccinated, but other groups of people, younger adults and children who were not vaccinated to the same degree...Delta found lots of people," Timberlake said.

Children as young as five years old can now be vaccinated, and more are getting their shots. But Timberlake said the increase in COVID cases is largely youth-related.

"Even though children don't get as sick typically as older people do with COVID-19, nevertheless, we have had 1,800 young people in the hospital with COVID-19, and I cannot think of a scarier circumstance as a parent than to be managing something like that," Timberlake said.

Also, Timberlake said because children typically live in families, there's a risk of any infection in a young person being transmitted to an older person.

The current upswing in COVID cases has again stretched hospital capacity in Wisconsin, including intensive care beds.

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Dr. Ashok Rai, President and CEO of Prevea Health, speaks to the news media Thursday.

Dr. Ashok Rai is President and CEO of Prevea Health in Northeast Wisconsin. He said COVID-19 patients are extremely labor intensive.

"One COVID patient may take up to three beds for a different type of disease," Rai said. "We need your help. We need to make sure hospitals are there for everybody and that care can stay local."

Health officials say the biggest help people can provide is for the unvaccinated to get the vaccine.

About 60% of Wisconsin residents are fully vaccinated. Roughly two-thirds have received at least one shot.

Many local pharmacies offer free vaccines and the booster shot for those who qualify. The Milwaukee Health Department and the Milwaukee Bucks are teaming up for another vaccination clinic Saturday at the Fiserv Forum. It's open to everyone.

Get a vaccine, and you can take a photo with the Bucks NBA Championship trophy and be entered into a drawing for tickets to Saturday night's Bucks home game.


Fiserv Forum Atrium
1111 Vel R. Phillips Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53203

Free Parking available in the Highland Street Parking Garage
1030 N. 6th Street

Saturday, December 4, 2021
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Chuck Quirmbach joined WUWM in August 2018. He focuses his longform stories on health, innovation, science, technology, transportation, utilities and business.
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