Milwaukee County COVID activity at record levels, official says

The omicron COVID-19 variant has made its presence loud and clear, and Milwaukee health officials are sounding the alarm.

The latest data shows more than one million people have now been infected by COVID-19 in Wisconsin to date – and cases continue to increase in Milwaukee.

During a Milwaukee County COVID-19 briefing Tuesday, Dr. Ben Weston – the county's chief health policy advisor – said there are 1,168 new COVID-19 cases per day and roughly three deaths per day in Milwaukee County.

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"Our case numbers are at an all-time record. Our positivity is at a positivity high 34% and our hospitalizations are also at a record high 635 people hospitalized with COVID," Wetson said.

Weston said hospitals in the area continue to stay busy, and health care workers are doing their best to care for those in need.

Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson said the holiday season created the perfect storm for a surge in cases. Many people spent time at family gatherings and some celebrate New Year's Eve at home or in public.

"Many people are infected with the virus. So again, there's...there are tests available. We know there are long lines because there's such a demand," said Johnson. "The reality is that we have just incredibly high levels of virus in our community."

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Health officials also continued to encourage vaccinations, particularly getting a booster shot, and to stop using cloth masks. Instead, officials encouraged use of N-95 masks.

"I'll tell you, I worked quite a bit in the emergency department over the holidays and the number of people with COVID there is really astounding," Weston said. "What's abundantly clear, when seeing and caring for patient after patient with COVID, is the impact of the vaccine."

Health leaders are asking everyone to continue to wear a mask in public, including indoors especially when around people from outside the household.

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