Image captured and colorized at Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Montana. Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Wisconsin hospitals are once again filling up with COVID-19 patients as the new surge in the pandemic continues, driven by the fast-spreading delta variant of the coronavirus.
New cases each day are increasing, reaching levels last seen in February, the state Department of Health Services (DHS) reported Wednesday. And coronavirus activity — which DHS assesses by combining the number of cases with a measure of whether case numbers are rising, falling, or holding steady — is “high” throughout the state and “very high” in four counties: Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Waukesha and Chippewa.
As of Tuesday, Wisconsin reported, on average, 1,121 new cases of COVID-19 a day for the previous seven days, according to DHS. That is a 25% increase from a week earlier, Aug. 3, when the seven-day average was 895.
The number of patients hospitalized for COVID reached 74 people on July 6, the lowest point since the early in the pandemic, according to the Wisconsin Hospital Association. By Tuesday, 525 people were hospitalized — a level not seen since Feb. 9.
On average, the number of deaths has remained relatively low, typically a seven-day average of one per day over the last two weeks. With six new deaths recorded Monday, and three more on Tuesday, however, that trend could be shifting. As of Tuesday, the seven-day average of deaths was two per day.
Deaths, though, are a lagging indicator, taking longer to show up in statistics that initial positive tests for the virus, so it might take more time to see whether the numbers are increasing.
DHS reports the COVID-19 activity level each week, using data over the past two weeks. Over the two weeks ending Aug. 19, the state reported 279.3 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people, with the average number of daily cases increasing.
COVID-19 vaccinations are increasing in the state, but still slowly, according to DHS, with 52.9% of all state residents having received at least one dose of vaccine as of Tuesday, Aug. 10, while just shy of half the population is fully vaccinated: 49.8%. Public health officials have emphasized that everyone who is able should get a COVID-19 vaccine, and that vaccines are widely available. The website Vaccines.gov offers guidance on where people can find a vaccine, which is free, closest to them.
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