MADISON -- The Wisconsin Department of Health Services urges state residents to stay home and follow best public health practices during the upcoming Fourth of July weekend.
A news release indicates Wisconsin has seen a recent surge in cases with half of all positive cases coming within the past five weeks. Nearly 20% of total COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin have tested positive within the past two weeks. This spike in cases is driven in part by an increase in infections among younger people, and contact tracing by some local health departments has revealed that many of these cases can traced back to bars.
The message from health officials: Although you may be taking time off for Independence Day, COVID-19 is not.
While there were more confirmed COVID-19 cases during early May compared to early June, more than twice the percentage of cases (14% compared to 7%) reported attending a gathering or party or meeting up with people outside their homes within two weeks of getting COVID-19. 1% reported attending a protest or rally during early June.
Contact tracing, an integral part of Wisconsin’s response to the pandemic, has revealed that more and more individuals testing positive for COVID-19 have recently met up with people outside their household.
"If you're with the people that you spend all your time with, people that you live with, traveling shouldn't be a big increase, it's really close contact with other people," State Epidemiologist Ryan Westergaard said of traveling safely over the Fourth of July weekend.
Milwaukee County remains the hardest-hit county amid the pandemic. Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley echoed the same message as Westergaard.
"If you go to a beach, if you go to a park and you see some overcrowding, we want you to do your part, possibly find another location to go, consider some different options," said Crowley.
As the weather continues to improve, DHS encourages Wisconsinites to consult guidance on how to participate in summer activities safely, which can be found on the DHS Avoid Illness webpage.
DHS officials said participating safely is particularly important for young people who are often asymptomatic; 23% of cases in Wisconsin are people in their 20s.
Governor Tony Evers issued the following statement in a news release:
"This message is especially important for younger people to hear. We know this is a time people like to celebrate with friends, but COVID-19 is still spreading in our state, and we need everyone to take the necessary precautions."