With COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths surging, Milwaukee County’s Emergency Management Medical Director Ben Weston issued a dire warning that the coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of subsiding.
“These trends are not slowing, the curve is not flattening, we’re not rounding any corner,” Weston said in a video conference on Thursday. “We are seeing a steady and steep upward trend in cases, hospitalizations and, tragically, deaths. There are harder days ahead, to be sure.”
Heading into the eighth month of the pandemic, Weston warned that people must remain vigilant in order to control and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We must be responsible and modify our individual behaviors,” he said. “It’s the individual actions that will make a difference in the coming days. Any way you look at it, the fall and winter months to come are going to be challenging. Challenging from a disease perspective as well as a mental health perspective. But by making safe and responsible personal decisions we can give ourselves and our community the best chance to stay healthy.”
Weston added that “every gathering avoided certainly makes a difference.”
As of Thursday, 325 people in Milwaukee County were hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19, the most since the pandemic began and continuing an upward trajectory in October. The total is more than 100 patients higher than the previous peak period in April, Weston noted.
The number of people in Milwaukee County being tested for COVID-19 is rising, as is the percentage of positive tests being recorded. Over the past week, 14 percent of the nearly 26,000 COVID-19 tests performed in Milwaukee County were positive.
“This is a bad combination that indicates very high disease activity in our community,” Weston said.
The new community testing site at Miller Park drew about 2,000 people on Wednesday, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. The Milwaukee Health Department’s Northwest Health Center administered 550 tests and the Southside Health Center 456. A recently opened site on the former Bucyrus International complex in South Milwaukee administered 432 tests.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported 4,870 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. This brought the seven-day average to a record-high 4,128 daily cases.
There have been 41,130 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 484 deaths in Milwaukee County since the start of the pandemic.
“We continue to see terrible trends in the state and also in Milwaukee County,” Weston said.