Doctors say surges from Delta variant could come to areas in Wisconsin with low vaccination rates

NOW: Doctors say surges from Delta variant could come to areas in Wisconsin with low vaccination rates

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Doctors say the effects of the Delta variant are already being seen in other Midwest states, like Missouri, with hospitalizations skyrocketing.

They say spikes in some areas of Wisconsin are inevitable if vaccinations don’t improve. Amid the spread, state health officials are also warning of increases in other non-COVID respiratory illnesses circulating.  

“I know of one hospital (in Missouri) that is completely full of COVID patients. They had shut down their COVID operations and now they opened them back up, they’re full, they actually can’t even take any new patients,” said Dr. Robert Citronberg, executive medical director of infectious disease and prevention at Advocate Aurora Health.  

Doctors say southwest Missouri’s situation is troubling, and it’s due to their low vaccination rates. Dr. Citronberg says their situation should be a warning sign to Wisconsinites. As of Monday, 46.7-percent of state residents have completed their vaccine series, and it’s not good enough.  

“In Door County for example, they have very high vaccination rates, in other parts of the state they don’t have as good vaccination rates,” adds Dr. Citronberg. “So I think you’ll see surges in those parts of Wisconsin that have lower vaccination rates.” 

So far in Wisconsin, three-dozen Delta variant cases have been detected, but the real number is expected to be much higher. With the Delta variant circulating rapidly in the U.S., experts say it’s crucial people complete the vaccine series to give their immunity the best fighting chance.  

“People who are unvaccinated remain at risk for getting COVID-19 and remain at risk for getting hospitalized and dying from it,” Dr. Citronberg says.  

“Six weeks is how long it takes to get a good vaccine immune response and six weeks from now is when Delta is going to be the majority virus in our community,” said Dave O’Connor, associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. “I would be very, very confident in making that prediction.”  

Amid the spread of the Delta variant in Wisconsin, state health officials are also warning of a significant increase of off-season respiratory virus cases, like RSV and Para influenza.  

“A negative COVID test cannot be interpreted as being free from disease,” says Tom Haupt, WI Department of Health Services respiratory disease epidemiologist. “A COVID test will not identify any of these viruses currently circulating in the state.” 

State health officials have seen a jump in severe non-COVID respiratory virus illnesses in kids under the age of five, with hospitals across the state seeing 70 to 80 kids coming in the last week. Haupt says older adults are also susceptible. He asks people to stay home if they’re feeling sick and wear a mask if they must go out.  

“We don’t want people saying, yes we got a negative COVID test, I’m alright, I’m going to go see my grandmother who I haven’t seen for two years and then it spreads like wildfire within that facility,” adds Haupt.  

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