The number of coronavirus cases in Wisconsin hit another record single-day high Thursday, with more than 3,000 positive tests.
Due to recent increases, Gov. Tony Evers announced this week that the alternate care facility at state fair park would be opening as surges threaten the state’s health care systems. Evers also issued an executive order for businesses to reduce occupancy to 25% capacity.
During Milwaukee County’s COVID-19 update Thursday, Greenfield Health Department Director Darren Rausch said drivers of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin continue to be other parts of the state, particularly the northern and northeastern parts. But he says every county seems to have a high level of burden at this point.
Rausch pointed to a few consistent trends in Milwaukee County.
"We still continue to see a large growth in our 25- to 39-year-old population. We continue to see cases surge in the white population amongst all others. We continue to see more hospitalizations with increasing age, and the rate is very important in that rate is age dependent. So, the older a person is, the more likely they are to be hospitalized," Rausch says.
Rausch reiterated that deaths from COVID-19 are more likely in older patients, yet he says younger adults also can succumb to the disease.
"I’m happy to report that as of today we still have no deaths in our under 18 population," Rausch said. "However, we have seen about 10 deaths throughout the duration of COVID-19 in our 18- to 39-year-old population."
Dr. Ben Weston, associate professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin, says hospitalizations in Milwaukee County are following a poor trend.
"In just three weeks, we’ve seen more than doubling in the number of patients hospitalized with COVID here in Milwaukee County; from 77 to 165 – a higher number than we’ve seen in four months," Weston said.
However, Weston says Milwaukee County is lucky to have multiple health systems and several large hospitals. But if cases continue to surge, he says officials will need to use the alternate care facility at State Fair Park. It’s expected to be ready next week.
As cases climb, Weston says it’s crucial that residents do their part to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
"We must be mindful that this health system infrastructure can only continue to function if each of us are to continue to slow the spread of the disease," he said.
Weston says we’re back to the concept of flattening the curve — slowing the spread so the health care system can keep up with cases.
Health officials and city and county leaders emphasize the importance of wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and being mindful of the safety of activities outside of the home.