Milwaukee County hits 2021 record for COVID-19 hospitalizations

·2 min read

Milwaukee County on Monday reached a 2021 record for COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to the county's chief health policy adviser.

Yesterday the county had 299 hospitalizations, Dr. Ben Weston said during a virtual media briefing.

The last time the county had a number that high was late December 2020, according to the county's online COVID-19 dashboard.

The seven-day average of cases in the county was 424, with about five deaths every two days, he said.

"We continue to see poor trends in Wisconsin and Milwaukee County," he said.

The cases, hospitalizations and deaths are currently due to the delta variant, which is very contagious and can cause serious illness but also responds to the vaccines, he said.

Weston said the emerging omicron variant is also cause for concern. In recent days, the variant was discovered in a fully vaccinated Milwaukee County resident who received a booster shot. The finding marked the state's first known case.

Southeastern Wisconsin is in a slightly better position in terms of hospital capacity than the rest of the state but still only has about 5% of its intensive care unit beds available, he said.

"As we see cases and hospitalizations rising in Milwaukee County, it certainly becomes concerning for how well we can manage all those patients coming in in hospitals that are getting more and more full," he said.

Weston did not have data reflecting how many hospitalized COVID-19 patients are vaccinated versus unvaccinated but said the "vast majority" of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in studies are not vaccinated. He also said the vaccine boosters are critical to maximizing protection against severe illness.

Residents should be cautious during the holiday season, he said, especially when they're traveling. Gatherings where everyone is vaccinated are safer.

Officials were able to offer some good news on the vaccination front.

Mayor Tom Barrett said the city has passed the 60% threshold of residents ages 16 and older who are fully vaccinated. About 65% of residents at least 16 years old have received at least one dose.

The Wisconsin Hospital Association reported Tuesday that the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the state had risen to 1,630, with 418 of those people in the intensive care unit.

The total number of hospitalized COVID patients in Wisconsin is up 657 from a month ago.

For the second day in a row Tuesday, the state's latest COVID-19 numbers hadn't been updated due to a weekend upgrade of the Wisconsin Electronic Disease Surveillance System, according to its website.

Contact Alison Dirr at 414-224-2383 or adirr@jrn.com. Follow her on Twitter @AlisonDirr.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee County hits 2021 record for COVID-19 hospitalizations

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