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'It's Going To Get Worse': Coronavirus Pandemic Prognosis Looks Bleak In Wisconsin

Chuck Quirmbach
A COVID-19 testing site is now open in the parking lot at Miller Park.

COVID-19 cases are increasing in Wisconsin and health officials say there’s no end in sight. During a briefing Tuesday, Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm shared the latest number of confirmed cases in Wisconsin – 178,482. She says more than 60% of those cases were diagnosed within the last two months.

“You’ll remember back in March and April, we all stayed home to flatten the curve and protect our frontline care workers and hospitals. It’s important to understand we are in a much worse place now than we were in March and April,” Palm says.

On Tuesday, there were 1,633 deaths due to COVID-19 in Wisconsin.

"This virus is claiming the lives of more of our friends and neighbors, and our hospitals are stretched too thin. This isn't sustainable and it's going to get worse," Palm says. "Our case count has climbed far higher and more rapidly in recent weeks and we know that means there will be even more Wisconsinites needing hospital care as a result."

Palm reminds Wisconsinites that we know what we need to do to fight the spread of the virus.

“Stay home, wear a mask, stay 6 feet apart, wash your hands,” Palm says.

Dr. Ben Weston, director of Medical Services with the Office of Emergency Management, echoed Palm’s message at the Milwaukee County COVID-19 briefing Tuesday.

“And it’s important to think of the protective measures as having several layers. So, wearing a mask is one layer, keeping distant from others is second layer,” Weston says.

He says Milwaukee is not immune from disturbing COVID-19 trends, with positive test rates consistently above 10% and more of those patients landing in hospitals.

Weston urges residents to layer up their personal protective measures when coming into contact with other people.

“Being outdoors is another layer, and shortening the time you are around others is yet additional layer. And each of these layers is key and they add upon another to increase our safety. Using one layer in isolation becomes far less effective,” Weston says. “So, wearing masks is important, but if you do it while gathering indoors for long periods it’s not a safe situation.”

Public health officer Ann Christiansen coordinates services for the seven communities just north of Milwaukee. She says health departments throughout the state are trying to help COVID-19 patients get better without needing hospital care.

“One of the things that our case managers do, they are in touch with people who have COVID on a day to day basis either throughout a phone call, a text message or even an electronic reporting system where people report their signs and symptoms to those case managers through the duration of their isolation period,” Christiansen says.

Christiansen says public health staff and resources are being stretched thin. She says health departments will need financial support to continue COVID-19 services into 2021.

Susan is WUWM's environmental reporter.
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