Milwaukee County reaches 2021 high mark of COVID-19 hospitalizations
Local health officials are adding to recent state warnings about the increase in COVID cases.
In Milwaukee County, an average of more than 400 people are being diagnosed with COVID every day, and there's an average of nearly five deaths every two days.
Dr. Ben Weston of Milwaukee County Emergency Management and the Medical College of Wisconsin said the COVID cases are leading to a new high for this year at local hospitals.
"Monday, we saw a new 2021 record for COVID hospitalizations in the county — 299 people. That's nearly 40 more people hospitalized with COVID just over the weekend, and statewide, we are really struggling with hospital capacity," Weston said during a Tuesday briefing.
Weston said while the highly-publicized Omicron variant of the coronavirus has been found in Wisconsin, it's still the Delta variant causing the problems.
City of Greenfield Health Director Darren Rausch said when looking at a seven-day average, the Milwaukee County suburbs currently have a higher case growth rate for COVID-19 than the city of Milwaukee. Rausch said vaccination rates are higher in the suburbs, so he said other prevention steps may be lacking.
"If we have a community that has schools where they are not requiring masking...you know, maybe high schools aren't masked and others are...those are having an impact," Rausch said.
Rausch said that schools are not the entire issue.
"When you go to certain communities, it's easy to feel like the pandemic is over, because no one's wearing a mask, no one is doing the things we know that keeps them safe. But, if you go into a community like Madison, you see lots of masks, you see reminders like signage on stores and at businesses," Rausch said.
Health officials continue to promote getting the COVID-19 vaccine, or a booster dose. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said the city has finally achieved full vaccination status for 60% of its residents who are ages 16 and over. Barrett also said 65% of the city has received at least one shot.
Milwaukee slightly trails adult vaccination rates seen in Ozaukee and Racine counties, but is well ahead of Dodge and Walworth counties.