Milwaukee County sees 50 percent jump in COVID cases in 2 weeks

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Health officials in Milwaukee are concerned, as COVID-19 cases are increasing once again in the county and state.

Officials say we're trending in the wrong direction after a big jump in cases.

"Throughout the Midwest, throughout Wisconsin and Milwaukee, we are seeing numbers that are higher than they were several months ago," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.

Milwaukee County has seen a 50 percent increase in COVID cases in just the last two weeks. The county is seeing an average of 256 cases and three deaths per day.

"And our positivity rate has increased from 6 percent to almost 8 percent," Dr. Ben Weston said.

Dr. Ben Weston said this increase could come from people getting together on Halloween, as well as the cooler weather forcing people inside.

He recommends taking extra precautions for Thanksgiving.


"CDC recommends avoiding mixing separate households of unvaccinated people, and that includes children," he said.

There is something different this year, however -- the vaccine, which is now available for those 5 to 11.

"That makes Thanksgiving a significantly lower risk activity than it was last year," said Dr. Jeff Pothof, UW Health chief quality officer.

Dr. Pothof said if you're having a modest gathering with fully vaccinated adults, and partially or fully vaccinated kids, it's relatively safe.

For those unvaccinated by choice, he says masking and social distancing is still the safe bet, that or same-day at home testing.

He said it's different for younger kids who can't get vaccinated yet.

"The trick to protecting them is to make sure they're surrounded by other individuals who are vaccinated," said Dr. Pothof.

County health officials said according to an Ohio State University survey, COVID-19 vaccinations are something many will be asking about during holiday gatherings.

"For many it's easy to feel that everyone has returned to life as normal, while you're still taking COVID precautions, but it's important to know that you are not alone," said Dr. Weston.

The CDC also recommends postponing any travel through public transportation, like on a bus or plane, unless you are fully vaccinated. They also say you should get tested before gathering with family and friends.

"The wider availability of cheap at-home testing for COVID, as well as many testing sites, it's very easy to add that extra layer of protection, especially if done the same day as the gathering," Dr. Weston said.

Dr. Weston also said to keep your group small this year, regardless of vaccination status.

"If your family is 40 people with all sorts of extensive family, you're just increasing your risk because there are breakthrough infections," he said.

Officials say now is the time to get your child vaccinated if you want them fully protected by Christmas.

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