Area doctors say rise in COVID-19 cases shows Wisconsin heading in the wrong direction

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Area doctors say Wisconsin's record-breaking COVID-19 numbers are troubling, and people should be concerned.

But why are we seeing such a sharp rise in cases?

We've heard doctors say over and over for months, the worst is yet to come.

On Monday, Dr. John Raymond, president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin, said the seven-day average of new cases shows both Milwaukee and the entire state is no longer making progress in the right direction.

A panel of COVID-19 experts took questions from the community Monday, Sept. 14. They say Milwaukee is now seeing an average of 111 new cases a day compared to about 60 a day just a week ago. 

"We should be concerned, and we should redouble our efforts," Dr. Raymond said. 

On Sunday, Wisconsin had more than 20% of tests with positive results.

The seven-day average for the state is now nearly 15%. Milwaukee's seven-day average is now at 8.6%.

"Normally if you're giving enough tests, you should have less than 5% positivity rate, that 20.5% positivity rate was the highest we've ever had," said Dr. Raymond.

"I think some of the numbers could reflect the university testing with college students," said Dr. Laura Cassidy, professor and director of the Epidemiology Division at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

The younger demographic continues to represent the largest number of cases, both in the state and region.

Dr. Raymond says there's also far more cases out there we're not discovering right now.

"That's what the positivity rate tells you, is there are a lot of cases out there that we're simply not testing."

"The highest rates have been in our 18-39 year old age group," said Dr. Cassidy. "There also tend to be those invincible ones who go to parties and take higher risks and spread it faster."

Experts say half of COVID-19 transmissions are from people with mild or no symptoms.

"If you think about the rise in cases that we're having now, most of those are in young people who are less likely to have symptoms," Dr. Raymond added. 

"If we wanna go back to college, if you wanna go back to school, if you wanna go back to work, we all have to lean on one another to reduce the amount of spread," said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley.

Dr. Raymond says while a vaccine is likely to be ready by the end of the year, it will only be available on a limited basis and not to the public immediately.

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