Wisconsin sees largest single-day increase in COVID cases ever

NOW: Wisconsin sees largest single-day increase in COVID cases ever


MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced Tuesday, Jan. 4, the highest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began. 

According to DHS, 8,058 new confirmed cases were reported. 

DHS says the new data is still coming in from over the holiday weekend. 

"This surge in cases is unlike any we've seen in the last 21 months of the pandemic," Milwaukee County Chief Health Policy Advisor Dr. Ben Weston said.

The City of Milwaukee Health Department is testing an unprecedented number of people for COVID-19 as case numbers and hospitalizations follow vertical trends, according to Weston. 

The health department said they've tested as many as 16,000 people each day. This data is only from Milwaukee's free community testing sites. It doesn't include other testing sites or at-home tests.

Meantime, people are waiting hours in line at COVID-19 testing sites across our area. Hayat Pharmacy is operating their COVID-19 testing site on Layton Avenue 24 hours a day to help with the demand. 

"Despite all this, Wisconsin is only in the middle of the pack of disease burden when looking at other states," Weston said. "The east coast is getting hit much harder, which means we'd likely have worse days to come."

Milwaukee's 24-7 Covid testing site was busy all day Tuesday. Since they started staying open around the clock, they're serving 2,000 people per day.

"Just to be on the safe side, I want to get tested," said Mariana Bautista, who waited in line Tuesday. 

Bautista woke up feeling under the weather. 

"I feel like I'm experiencing some Covid-like symptoms -- stuffy nose, congestion. I woke up this morning with a little bit of a sore throat."

With omicron spreading fast, the need for testing has greatly gone up. 

"Omicron just changed all the way we think about how contagious this disease is," said Dr. Hashim Zaibak, Hayat Pharmacy CEO. "This is a big challenge. It's really a big challenge, but they're saying that they're gonna be there for the community," said Dr. Zaibak. 

Dr. Hashim Zaibak knew that keeping the around-the-clock hours would be difficult.

"When we went to pharmacy school, we were told take care of the community. It was a crazy idea. My wife told me Hashim, this is really a crazy idea, I don't think it's gonna work."

But it is working, thanks to family and close friends pitching in while Hayat continues to hire. 

"So they rearranged the schedule. Some of the people who work during the daytime now are working third shift. I'm working third shift, too," said Dr. Zaibak. 

City leaders said there are no plans to issue mask mandates as of Tuesday, Jan. 4.

Instead, they're strongly encouraging people to get the vaccine and booster shots.

"The vaccine is very often the difference between whether you go home to lay on your couch and watch movies or you're admitted to the hospital," Weston said.

Milwaukee health officials shared a COVID-19 update Tuesday afternoon. Watch it below. 

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