Health officials: Wisconsin sees 2,000+ new COVID-19 cases, single-day increase record

Health officials: Wisconsin sees 2,000+ new COVID-19 cases, single-day increase record

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Troubling numbers from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) on Thursday, Sept. 17. The state added more than 2,000 positive cases. 

DHS reported at least 2,034 new cases as of Thursday. 

The record high number of new COVID-19 cases in the state is sounding the alarm for Milwaukee County leaders. The 7-day average in the state continues to increase with spikes in the college age population, and local leaders say efforts must be doubled.

Mayor Tom Barrett says Wisconsin is now ranked as one of the top states with the highest amount of new COVID-19 cases in the country. He says it is clear college campuses are the driving force behind the numbers.

“I think that is an alarm and is something that we should be listening to,” said Mayor Barrett. 

Doctors say college campuses have the most concerning trends. The 18 to 39 age group now takes the lead for not only the highest number of cases, but the rate of disease and hospitalizations in Milwaukee County.

“Hospitalization can be indicative of the severity of the illness and seeing those rates climb is potentially problematic,” said Darren Rausch with the Greenfield Health Department. 

"I think there really has to be a re-doubling of efforts to make sure that college students are taking this seriously, because it clearly is having an impact right now,” adds Mayor Barrett. 

Health officials say the city of Milwaukee has seen an increase in average cases the last seven days. 

“This is something we’re going to want to watch very carefully in the coming weeks because it may be indicative of a slight upswing in cases throughout the county," says Rausch. 

In the first week of September UW-Milwaukee saw 19 new cases among students, but just in the last four days the university has seen 47 new cases.  Marquette has seen 38 new cases between staff and students in the last 7 days, and this week the university had to put a residence hall under quarantine.

“I know there’s been some attempts to quarantine them in their dorms and not surprisingly there are a number of people who don’t like to be quarantined and may return to their homes,” said Mayor Barrett. 

Mayor Barrett says he’s afraid the disease would spread to older populations when college students go home.

Rausch says this week hot spots in the county included Milwaukee's East side, Shorewood and Whitefish Bay.

“It feels like this is starting to become a turning point, we’ve been doing really well up until this point but we know again with the school year and the fall, there are unknowns how that’s going to affect the COVID-19  so this is a time to be especially careful," said Dr. Ben Weston, Medical Director for Milwaukee Office of Emergency Management. 

Doctors are encouraging people keep up with testing regularly and to get their flu shot this fall. They say the flu shot will not only avoid confusion, it’ll also help keep hospitals from reaching capacity if less people are sick.

Keep track of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin by CLICKING HERE

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