COVID-19 cases rise in Wisconsin children

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 1:31 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2021 at 2:19 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - As COVID-19 surges in Wisconsin, state health officials say cases among children are growing at an alarming trend.

Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ryan Westergaard held a news conference Wednesday to address the rise in cases across the state as students head back to school and other activities.

Timberlake noted that these cases are rising especially in the 9-13 age group, most of which cannot get vaccinated.

According to DHS’ dashboard, 1,540 children in this age group had the virus during the week of Sept. 12. Children ages 9-13 have also recently surpassed the 14-17 age group, a group which can get vaccinated.

The 14-17 age group still has the highest per capita case rate, at 470.6 cases per 100,000 youth in that group.

Timberlake acknowledged that the state has their hands tied when it comes to COVID-19 guidance in schools, due to previous Wisconsin State Supreme Court rulings that restrict the state from implementing a statewide policy.

“At the end of the day, we are really relying on those local decision makers to make sure that they are adopting strategies that are going to work to keep kids and vulnerable adults in the community safe,” said Timberlake. “We know what works, the tools are available, and we really do need people to pick up the tools in the toolbox and use them.”

Health officials asked that parents and community members continue to get vaccinated if they are able, wear a mask and stay home when they are sick. Parents should also keep their children home from school if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19.

Timberlake and Dr. Westergaard both noted that the Delta variant is growing at a “concerning” rate and there is no sign of a plateau yet. Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene data show more than 4,500 cases of the Delta variant have been identified in Wisconsin of the cases tested. This more highly transmissible variant also made up more than 98% of the cases tested last month.

As new COVID-19 cases rolled in Wednesday, the new total ever reported in the state rose to 707,074 Wednesday as 2,723 new cases were confirmed.

The seven-day average for new cases dropped slightly to 2,857 cases.

DHS also confirmed 19 new deaths related to COVID-19 on Wednesday.

Officials noted that they do expect to see an increase in COVID-19 deaths as cases also rise, but they do not expect to see the same sharp spike in deaths as in cases currently. This is due to having more people vaccinated against COVID-19 now.

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