Wisconsin sees record COVID-19 case increase; students take notice

Data reported by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) on Friday, Sept. 18 show a record-breaking rise in COVID-19 cases statewide.

The rise in cases coincides with back-to-school for many. Some Milwaukee-area leaders point to students' return to college campuses for the increase.

"I think it's pretty clear," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. "It's the college campuses driving this more than anything.

"I think there really has to be a redoubling of effort to make sure college students are taking this seriously."

Confirmed COVID-19 cases among UW-Milwaukee, UWM students

At UW-Milwaukee, new cases numbers rose this week to 98, according to the university. The rise is worrying to some students.

"As a whole, some people aren't taking it seriously, and that's affecting everybody else," said Audra Attaway, a UW-Milwaukee graduate school student.

University officials say things have been safe in the classrooms, but it is what students are doing in their free time that is putting others at risk.

"For the most part, I think everyone is following it, yeah. Especially compared to other campuses," said Danielle Brzezinski, a UW-Milwaukee freshman.

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

"I'm seeing more of the behaviors off-campus, not walking around with their masks, people throwing parties off-campus," Attaway said. "I think the university is doing a good job of mitigating. Off-campus, people need to take more responsibility."

Some students say they are preparing if in-person classes are suddenly moved online.

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The majority of the confirmed cases in the state remain in Milwaukee County, where more than 26,000 total cases have been reported. 

City and county officials continue urging everyone to wear masks.

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In total, 97,279 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, as have 1,238 deaths, according to the DHS.

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