Milwaukee COVID cases, positivity double since before Christmas

The Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) on Friday, Jan. 7 reported substantial increases to the COVID-19 case burden and positivity rate.

Both metrics more than doubled since before Christmas Eve, per the health department's data released on Dec. 23.

According to MHD, the city saw 1,034.1 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the past week. The disease burden is up from the previous week's 571.7. Cases per 100,000 were reported at 473.6 prior to the Christmas holiday. Each figure is considered "extreme" transmission.

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Percent positivity this week jumped to 38.5% compared 23.8% the previous week. On Dec. 23, percent positivity was reported at 14.3%. Again, all three figures are considered "extreme" transmission.

This week, the city experienced both the highest number of tests administered the highest test positivity since the pandemic began, according to the health department. 

Milwaukee City Hall

Milwaukee City Hall

MHD said 61.1% of city residents ages 16 and older are fully vaccinated, and 66.3% have received at least their first dose. Additionally, 35.7% of fully vaccinated people have received a booster dose.

"The newest gating metrics, while not surprising, are alarming. This current trend is indicative of the presence of omicron, which is rapidly spreading throughout the city and state," said Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson. "When you look at how this new variant behaves, it is important to recognize that omicron began to emerge in Milwaukee right as we began to head into the holiday season.

"This created a perfect storm, with a more highly transmissible variant emerging while people are traveling and gathering in their homes with friends and family."

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An increased demand for COVID-19 tests is causing longer lines at the Northwest Health Center, Southside Health Center and Menomonee Valley Site. The Milwaukee Police Department is now present at testing facilities to assist with the line and keep everyone safe. The health department requests the public’s patience and understanding as it continues to work through the surge in COVID-19 testing.

In response to the increase in cases, the Milwaukee Health Department’s contact tracing is now focused on individuals under 18 years old in addition to providing support to schools and congregate living environments. Anyone who receives a positive COVID-19 test result should proactively reach out directly to those they have recently come in contact with to tell them and encourage them to get tested.

The number of mobile vaccine clinics available this week is lowered due to a shift in health department staffing to handle the influx in testing demand. Vaccines and boosters are still available to the public at the health department’s community clinics. Milwaukee Health Department vaccine and testing site locations and hours can be found at Additional free testing and vaccine sites throughout Milwaukee County can be found at


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