Upward trend in COVID-19 cases a ‘concern’ for state, community health leaders as neighboring states struggle

NOW: Upward trend in COVID-19 cases a ‘concern’ for state, community health leaders as neighboring states struggle

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – As the city and state continue to make progress with vaccinations, there is concern an upward trend in COVID-19 cases may worsen similar to neighboring states experiencing severe spikes.

“From a health department perspective, we’re concerned,” Celia Shaughnessy, the site coordinator for the Wisconsin Center, told reporters on Sunday, April 11. “I think in the news you’ve seen our numbers are starting to creep up in Wisconsin, our neighboring states are struggling, the other numbers you see are those under 18.”

That concern is prompting officials to continue to encourage people to get vaccinated at places like community sites like the Wisconsin Center, where there are plenty of appointments and walk-in opportunities available as well as no expected wait time for the upcoming week.

“We’d love to see about 4,000 people through here a day and right now we have a couple of thousand [appointments] available every single day,” Shaughnessy said.

Experts say the upward trend is being driven by the more contagious B117 variant among young people who are not vaccinated.

“It is becoming the predominant form here in Wisconsin as it is in Minnesota and Michigan,” Dr. William Hartman of UW Health told CBS 58 in an interview.

Hartman said the surges seen in neighboring states can be avoided as long as the vaccination effort in Wisconsin remains steady and mitigation efforts continue.

“There is a concern that these cases will continue to increase,” Hartman said. “But it should be noted that because the vaccines are very effective against this variant we can get ahead of it so long as we continue to vaccinate people at the level that we’re doing it.”

Because of the increase in cases and community spread, the City of Milwaukee Health Department said Friday, April 9 it, “anticipates changing the public health order next week from Phase 6 to Phase 5.” That action would reduce capacity limits, but would not affect businesses with safety plans approved by the city.

The official announcement is expected later this week.

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