Milwaukee COVID positivity worsens, now 'substantial'

The Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) on Friday, Dec. 3 reported worsening COVID-19 case trends – the first disease activity update since Thanksgiving.

According to MHD, the city saw 215.7 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. The disease burden is up from the previous report's 202.5 cases per 100,000. The gating criteria remains in the "extreme" transmission designation.

Percent positivity also rose – now 9.1% – and is now considered "substantial" transmission, according to MHD. The gating criteria was last reported at 7.5%, which was considered "moderate" transmission.

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MHD said 59.8% of eligible city residents are fully vaccinated, and 64.7% of received at least their first dose. Additionally, 22% of eligible residents have received a booster dose.

Eligible people can attend a Fiserv Forum vaccine clinic from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4; first, second and booster doses of the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be available, in addition to pediatric vaccines and flu shots. 

Those to attend the clinic will have the chance to take a photo with the NBA's Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy and will be entered to win tickets to that night's Milwaukee Bucks game against the Miami Heat.

Omicron variant

On Nov. 24, a new SARS-CoV-2 variant, B.1.1.529, was identified in South Africa and reported to the World Health Organization (WHO). The first case of the new variant, which WHO has named omicron, was reported in the U.S. on Dec. 1 in California.

At this time, it is unknown how efficiently the variant can spread from person to person or if infection with the variant produces more severe symptoms. Preliminary information from South Africa indicates that there are no unusual symptoms associated with omicron variant infection, and as with other variants, some patients are asymptomatic.

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MHD said it is important for individuals to continue to practice safety mitigations, such as masking and physical distancing in public, indoor spaces.

In anticipation of future identification of the Omicron variant in Milwaukee, the increasing burden of positive COVID-19 cases, and the knowledge of increased socializing indoors because of the winter, the Milwaukee Health Department issued a mask advisory on Tuesday, Nov. 30.

The Milwaukee Health Department Laboratory, as well as additional labs across the state, have the ability to identify the omicron variant in positive specimens. The Northwest Health Center, Southside Health Center, and Menomonee Valley Site offer drive-thru and walk-up testing without an appointment for anyone over the age of one. The locations and hours of these sites can be found on the city's website.

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