High COVID-19 levels sweep southern Wisconsin, including Dane Co.

Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 8:03 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 22, 2022 at 8:49 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - For weeks, as COVID-19 community levels swung from low to high across the state, Dane Co. remained locked in the medium category. When most of the state was green, indicating low activity, the county was yellow, meaning it was considered as having medium levels. As orange high counties started popping up again, Dane Co. was yellow.

That changed Friday, and not in the good way. Dane Co. moved into the high column – and it wasn’t alone among its neighboring counties. Last week, the number of high counties exploded to fourteen and it ticked up further in the latest report, to sixteen. The big change, though, is where those high counties are located. Whereas last week found most of the high counties at the northern edges of the Wisconsin, this one put the counties seeing the worst levels in the southern half of the state.

“We’re seeing this trend of communities moving to medium and high levels nationwide, and it is possible we could bounce between medium and high levels for a few weeks,” PHMDC Janel Heinrich said.

In addition to Dane Co., other counties in the region painted orange, include:

  • Grant
  • Green
  • Iowa
  • Kenosha
  • Milwaukee
  • Richland
  • Rock
  • Sauk

The other seven high counties were: Barron, Brown, Door, Eau Claire, Portage, Rusk, and Sawyer.

The weekly DHS map provides a snapshot of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention community levels map. It has not updated yet for the week, but the CDC updates theirs daily. The map spans the United States, putting each county in one of three categories based on a formula that combines case counts and hospitalization rates.

CDC map of COVID-19 Community Levels by county for the week ending July 21, 2022
CDC map of COVID-19 Community Levels by county for the week ending July 21, 2022(CDC)

With Dane Co. now in the high column, the county’s health agency is asking people to take extra precautions against the spread of the virus. In a statement Friday morning, Public Health Madison and Dane Co. urged everyone to make sure they are up-to-date on their vaccines and to wear a mask while at indoor public spaces.

“Given evidence this new variant may more easily evade immunity it’s especially important we protect ourselves and our neighbors,” County Executive Joe Parisi said. “We all want to move past talking about and responding to COVID, but variations of the virus remain, and we need to keep looking out for one another.”

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway added that it isn’t only individuals who can take steps to prevent COVID-19 spread. She pointed out that business owners could support less crowded work environments and improving ventilation in those spaces.

Recently, Dane County’s case counts crossed the threshold to be eligible for a high classification; but its hospitalization rate stayed low enough that the CDC put it in the middle column. Earlier this week, DHS published its statewide hospitalization report which showed no significant change in patients hospitalized neither statewide nor any of the seven individual regions into which Wisconsin is divided. Drilling down, the CDC’s data show a 42 percent increase in new admissions compared with seven days ago.

“In Dane County, the cases reported to us have remained stable over the last two months, but hospitalizations in our region have seen a gradual increase,” Heinrich said. “At this level, it’s time to layer proven prevention strategies to slow spread and the protect health of our friends, family, and community members.”

On an optimistic note for southern Wisconsin, many counties that passed into the high counties recently have not stayed there long. Of the fourteen counties that were high last week, only five of them – including Milwaukee and Rock – remained orange this week.

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