Milwaukee County sees 30-percent increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations within the last week

NOW: Milwaukee County sees 30-percent increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations within the last week

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Area doctors say recent fluctuating percentages in the amount of positive cases are due to transitions in testing, but even then they’re still noticing an uptick in the last few days.

Milwaukee County health experts say this pandemic is not close to being over. In fact, in the last week there’s been a 30-percent increase in hospitalizations.

“We were at 146 the 14th of May about a week ago and now we’re at 192 as of today, so that’s about a 30-percent increase,” says Dr. Ben Weston, Medical Director for Milwaukee County’s Office of Emergency Management.

Doctors say the rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations should serve as a “proceed with caution” sign.

“I think this is more evidence of why we need to progress in a measured manner,” adds Dr. Weston.

Some trends are showing positive signs, because while hospitalizations are up, the number of coronavirus deaths in the county is actually decreasing.

“We are seeing a downward trend of deaths of COVID-19, but on top of that we’re seeing an upward tick in cases, so we are seeing two different things,” said Darren Rausch, Health Director for the Greenfield Health Department.

“I think there are elements that are reassuring, there are elements that are concerning. I would not dwell on the percent positives right now, at least over the last few days,” says Dr. Weston.

From day-to-day, the percent of positive cases in Milwaukee County can vary. Some days it’s low and other days it’s high, but experts say the fluctuation is due to more testing and a lag in test results.

“Between the state and the health department where you reside, there has been a lag in reporting, so some people have not been receiving their results,” said Milwaukee’s Health Commissioner, Jeannette Kowalik.

“Right now we’re seeing more asymptomatic people being tested by the National Guard,” adds Dr. Weston.

“We’ve seen it kind of climb and we’ve seen it decrease and right now we’re in a little bit of a flattening to an upper trend,” says Rausch.

Rausch says local health departments will continue to look at test data, but want people to know not to focus on one day’s results.

“We know there’s a little bit of a lag of that data and more importantly as an epidemiologist we should never look at one data point, we should look at a trend over time,” Rausch said.

Doctors say even with hospitalizations up, there is still an adequate amount of ICU beds and ventilators in our area. They say as we approach Memorial Day weekend, staying home is the safest thing you can do.

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