Officials: COVID-19 cases rising among kids in Milwaukee County

Local health officials are warning about an increase in COVID-19 cases among children in Milwaukee County. 

Additionally, on Thursday, April 1, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner reported that a 14-year-old died after contracting COVID-19. The cause of death has not yet been determined.

Officials are urging people who have traveled for spring break, or who plan to travel for the upcoming Easter weekend, to monitor themselves for symptoms and take the necessary precautions before returning to work and school.

Milwaukee County health officials have noticed the troubling trend in COVID-19 data -- showing a continued increase in cases, especially among kids, since March 15.

"The concern would be that we're headed into another peak," said Darren Rausch with the Greenfield Health Department.

Rausch said it is difficult to pinpoint the cause, but said the return of school spring sports, as well as the start of spring break for many districts, may be playing a role.

"That families have traveled, that families have traveled out of state, to other parts of the country, maybe they've traveled internationally and that they will be coming back," said Rausch.

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley said the uptick in cases is especially concerning given the Supreme Court of Wisconsin's decision to strike down the state mask mandate. He said Milwaukee County will still be enforcing masks in county facilities and on buses.

"Masks, physical distancing and handwashing remain our best tools against the disease while we work to get lifesaving vaccines to the people who need them the most," Crowley said.

Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

While the vaccine isn't yet available to most children, Crowley and hospital leaders are urging patients to get their teens vaccinated once they are eligible. Shots open up to the general public, ages 16 and up, on April 5.

"Our ability to make them safer is a wonderful step forward," said Dr. Smriti Khare, president of primary care for Children's Wisconsin.

Only Pfizer's vaccine is approved for children 16 and older. Pfizer also released encouraging data earlier this week from clinical trials with children 12-15 years old, showing the vaccine is 100% effective.

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