'We continue to urge caution': Health officials concerned about new spike in COVID-19 infections

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- While vaccination efforts continue to ramp up in the state, health officials are urging caution about an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

The state more than doubled the number of positive cases from Tuesday to Wednesday from about 350 to nearly 800 new infections. The seven day average of COVID-19 cases is about 440, a 2.5% increase from a few weeks ago.

With new variants of the virus and more people traveling during spring break season, DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk warned people to stay the course, or it could lead to another surge in cases and hospitalizations.

“We don’t want to take five steps back just when we’re at the cusp of things getting a lot better,” Willems Van Dijk said. “

While cases are not as nearly high when daily COVID-19 infections topped more than 7,000 in November, the state is still averaging about 400-500 which Willems Van Dijk called “high.”

“We were never at a low level of disease activity,” she said. “In a way we’ve been lulled into a sense of security here in Wisconsin because we had it so bad and just having it bad doesn’t seem too awful to us.”

The spike in cases is concerning, but some infection disease experts say it was expected with more people getting “COVID fatigue” and eager to travel.

“It is the expected effect to see the rises and dips in cases as those activities go up and down and we know the UK variant is more transmissible,” said Dr. Nasia Safdar, UW Health Director of Infection Control.

More than 27% of the state’s population have received at least one dose of the vaccine as of Thursday. This week the more than two million with certain health conditions were able to schedule vaccine appointments.

State health officials said they still expect to open up eligibility to the general public by May 1st.

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