Milwaukee County COVID cases jump 30% in 1 week, health officials urge caution

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee County health leaders say COVID-19 cases have jumped 30% in one week. Per CDC guidelines, the spike has moved the county into the medium community transmission category.

"This change to yellow is in response to an increase in case rates from 158 cases per 100,000 people last week to 206 cases per 100,000 people this week." Milwaukee County Chief Health Policy Advisor Dr. Ben Weston said.

Dr. Weston said the county had been in the green, or low transmission, level since March.

This change is now a community signal for everyone to be on watch.

"We haven't been over 10% positivity in three months. If you look at hospitalizations, we're starting to see an uptick. If you look at wastewater, we're seeing increases," he added.

Hospitalizations have doubled over the last two weeks, with 72 people in the county currently hospitalized with COVID-19.

However, officials say there's no need to panic just yet.

"Although increasing, our hospitalization numbers remain fairly low. This may indicated that many people who have the virus right now are experiencing more mild symptoms," City of Milwaukee Health Department Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson said.

Health officials are encouraging people to get tested, vaccinated and boosted.

If you're avoiding the shot, they say it may be unwise to depend on your body's natural immunity.

"We're seeing, for example, these new variants out of South Africa -- B.A. 4 and B.A. 5 -- don’t seem to much care if you've had COVID in the past. They are responsive to the vaccine," Weston said.

Johnson said the city health department is continuing to offer vaccines at long-term care facilities and neighborhoods with low vaccination rates.

As we head into Summer, Johnson said to expect to see their pop-up vaccine booths at events again.

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