Wisconsin health officials reported a new COVID-19 case count of 87 today. But the slight dip in daily reported cases, when compared to previous weeks, likely doesn’t mean Wisconsin has seen the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a press conference this morning, Dr. Ryan Westergaard, Chief Medical Officer of Wisconsin’s Bureau of Communicable Diseases, said that determining a peak before the fact can be difficult.
“I mean that would be wonderful if that was true. The truth is we don’t know. We don’t know what the peak of the curve is until you’ve seen the first wave come and go. Where we go from here depends on how we approach the coming weeks. The cases we see now reflect who were infected a week ago. If this is the peak, that will be evidenced that we’ve done a really good job,” he said.
Westergaard went on to say that even if the peak begins to flatten, that’s not necessarily indicative of a return to status quo.
“We’ve flattened the curve, but we haven’t smashed the curve down to nothing. There’s still people in the community with infections we don’t know about. We need to be careful, make sure we have all the resources in place so we can keep the curve low. We’re not out of the woods,” he said. “What we’ve learned from other epidemics in other countries is that when they have a similar testing infrastructure like we do, they probably detect some low percentage, between 10 and 20 percent of the true cases. So it’s good news and bad news, clearly we’re not at the surge that’s straining our healthcare capacity, but we’re also not at such a small level that we’re safe from having an expanded epidemic like seen in many countries.”
In the same press conference, Secretary of Health Designee Andrea Palm said that she anticipates a drop in the rate of testing due to the holiday weekend. The drop in testing could impact the state’s number of reported cases in the coming days.
“What we’re likely to see coming out of the holiday weekend is probably not as many tests as we have seen previously. Some of that is probably reflective of the fact that people were celebrating the holidays and did not seek out testing,” she said. “Irregardless of the numbers over the weekend we want to continually ramp up our [testing] capacity.”
In order to meet that increased capacity, state health officials say they’re planning to open up two new Alternative Care Facilities to alleviate stress on the state’s medical infrastructure.
It also remains to be seen whether in-person voting last Tuesday will cause a bump in new cases. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services said late last week it plans to track whether the election caused a bump in cases.
And more economic relief may also be on the way, as the state Assembly and Senate is poised to meet later this week to pass a COVID-19 package.