Photo taken from Wikipedia Commons on Creative Commons Attribution License.
“There are now 119,955 confirmed cases of COVID-19 here in the state of Wisconsin,” said Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm. “That’s an increase of 2,367 over yesterday. Our total deaths have now reached 1,300. That’s 17 more than yesterday.”
She said today that while earlier this month the increase in COVID-19 was driven by young people, now other cohorts are testing positive for COVID-19 at high rates.
Over the past week, Wisconsin averaged over 2,200 new cases per day, according to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Relative to population, that’s one of the highest rates of spread in the United States. This increased rate of spread has been going on since the beginning of the month, when reopening colleges saw large increases in COVID-19 cases among students. That prompted UW-Madison to restrict the movement of their students, and the increase among that demographic has since declined statewide, according to Palm. When asked about conditions in schools, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said that he believed them to be safe.
“We’re seeing, obviously, some cases in our schools, but that is not the majority of what we’re seeing that’s driving this,” said Evers. “School districts are doing a good job. If it’s causing a significant interruption in the education, they’re going virtual.”
Evers attributed the increasing numbers to a small group of people who he believed weren’t taking the pandemic seriously, and going about their lives as though the virus wasn’t there.
“There are many across the state who aren’t taking this seriously, who aren’t wearing a mask, who aren’t limiting their travel, who are going about their daily lives as if though it is November of 2019,” said Evers.
Evers encouraged people to wear masks during social gatherings without family members.
Between yesterday and today, Wisconsin found over 2,600 new cases of COVID-19, which is the highest single-day increase since the pandemic began. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Website, at the beginning of September there were over 200 people being treated for COVID-19 in Wisconsin hospitals.
That number has now climbed to over five hundred, and every region of Wisconsin, including the rural Northwoods, , is seeing an increase. Green Bay’s Bellin Hospitalannounced today that they are at 94% capacity. That comes as President Donald Trump is expected to hold a campaign rally in Green Bay this Saturday.
Robinson Meyer, a writer for the Atlantic and co-founder for their COVID tracking project, says he believes Wisconsin could be on the verge of another COVID outbreak. He says Wisconsin is at the beginning of a trend that has already happened in other states.
“In some of the Sun Belt states this Summer where you see spiking numbers for a prolonged period of time, you see states having to roll back aspects of their reopening policies, you see suddenly so many people want to get tested that actually there’s a shortage of tests, you see hospital capacity get tested,” said Meyer.
Meanwhile, Governor Evers says that actions taken by the state legislature made it harder to get the pandemic under control.
Top Republican legislative leaders have characterized recent mask mandate as illegal, and conservative legal group Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty filed an injunction seeking to stop the mandate, saying that Evers had overstepped his powers by declaring multiple states of emergency for the same pandemic. Republican leaders have successfully struck down other measures, such as the statewide safer-at-home order, during the pandemic.
When asked by reporters about the possibility of using law enforcement to uphold a mask requirement, Governor Evers said that, at the end of the day, it was up to the people of Wisconsin to keep each other safe.
“Frankly, there isn’t enough law officers in the state to go out and arrest and hold people accountable. At the end of the day, people have to understand that this is important,” said Evers.