Wisconsin sees slight uptick in COVID cases, Delta variant likely the reason

NOW: Wisconsin sees slight uptick in COVID cases, Delta variant likely the reason

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) - Wisconsin has seen a slight uptick in COVID cases since late June. On Friday, state officials said the unvaccinated population is at most risk, and the Delta variant will likely take hold.

"Many states seeing increases in cases, increases in hospitalizations as well -- unfortunately Wisconsin is one of those states -- and unfortunately the Delta variants seems to be a likely reason why," said Dr. Ben Weston, associate professor at Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin and medical director at Milwaukee County of Emergency Management.

Doctors say slight upticks will happen here and there. Wisconsin Department of Health Services has identified 83 cases of Delta as of July 8, but the true number is expected to be higher.

"To some extent, they're expected, I think the concern about Delta is that it is easier to transmit," says Dr. Nasia Safdar, medical director of infection control at UW Health.

"We're going to see some ups, we're going to see some downs. I think what's more concerning are the trends that we're seeing nationally and even internationally," adds Dr. Weston.

On Monday, July 5, the state had a 7-day average of 60 cases. That average has steadily increased each day. The number as of Monday, July 12 sits at 114 cases.  The 7-day percent positivity rate has also increased from 0.8-percent on June 26 to 1.6 percent on Monday, July 12.

Dr. Weston says Milwaukee County is also seeing increases.

"If we've learned one thing during this pandemic it's that we are not isolated from our neighbors, whether it's our neighboring counties, our neighboring states," he said.

With hospitalizations surging in low vaccination states like Missouri, doctors say the worry is whether that same situation would come to Wisconsin.

"That's typically the case, that it starts somewhere and then moves elsewhere, it's always been a rolling pandemic," says Dr. Safdar. "So the reason for concern is that if other places are seeing it, will we eventually come to a place where we are?"

"Certainly, we should be concerned, but we know the main thing we can do to prevent that is to increase our vaccination numbers," Dr. Weston adds.

So far, 48-percent of Wisconsin residents have finished their vaccine series. Experts say if cases continue to escalate, it would suggest we are moving in the wrong direction.

"I mean a steep increase is obviously more concerning, but even a gradual uptick might mean that, you know, in the next few weeks or months we might have to make some interventions to mitigate that," Dr. Safdar says.

Dr. Safdar says while we are still doing okay at this point, people who are unvaccinated need to think seriously about getting the vaccine. For more information on where you can find a vaccine appointment, click here.

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