Doctors concerned about Wisconsin COVID-19 case increase

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Wisconsin is one of at least 35 states with daily COVID-19 cases trending in the wrong direction since the end of October, according to Johns Hopkins University.

In Wisconsin, the last two weeks have brought an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Dr. Jeff Pothof, chief quality officer for UW Health, said the recent increase could partially be explained by people gathering together for Halloween.

"I wouldn't say it's quite a surge yet, but it's definitely trending in the wrong direction right now," said Dr. Hammad Haider-Shah, chief medical officer for the Aurora West Allis Medical Center.

The seven-day average in Wisconsin is still about half of what it was this time last year. But doctors said this winter is different because people are using fewer COVID-19 mitigation strategies and there are more cases of flu and other respiratory viruses.

"Thanksgiving and Christmas last year during the pandemic, not so much in Wisconsin but certainly other parts of the country -- specifically Southern California, saw significant surges after those holidays had concluded," Pothof said.

Pothof said in a family that's largely unvaccinated, all it takes is one person to come and spread the contagious Delta variant.

Right now, children 18 or younger make up a high percentage of the COVID-19 cases.

Doctors recommend 5-11 year-olds get the Pfizer vaccine now that they are eligible.

"Your child will either get COVID-19 or your child will get vaccinated against COVID-19," Pothof said.

Vaccine immunity is waning among many people who got vaccinated toward the beginning of this year, so Dr. Haider-Shah said anyone who's eligible should get the booster now in time to be protected for the holidays.

"It takes a little while for it to start working. So even if (you) get the shot today, you're really not getting the full effect until about two weeks later," he said. "Two weeks from now is Thanksgiving."

He said spending time with family is important for mental health, but in families where everyone is vaccinated and vulnerable people got their boosters, the risk of spreading COVID-19 is much lower.

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