Looking for some extremely hesitant good news about Milwaukee County’s fight against COVID-19? Of course you are. During a media briefing Thursday afternoon, Milwaukee County’s medical services director Dr. Ben Weston delivered some of that kinda-sorta good news. “We seem to be making progress,” said Dr. Weston, while noting that things are far from over.
Here are his full remarks, followed by some charts ‘n’ graphs.
“First to our numbers: We have 20,521 cases of COVID-19 in our community, and 389 individuals who have died.
“When we look at our county dashboard we are seeing some potentially hopeful trends. We see a downtrend of cases, though that is coupled with a downtrend in the volume of individuals getting tested. However, we’re also seeing a stability at percent positivity, right around 8%. We’re hopeful that we can continue to drive that number down. And we see stable, to even declining levels of hospitalizations in the county.
“Now if we’ve learned anything from the first few months of this pandemic, it’s that we’ll see good trends and we’ll see worsening trends at different times as we go on. But these promising trends at this moment speak to the importance of perseverance in testing, in physical distancing, and masking. While it’s too soon to see the effects of the statewide mask ordinance put in place about a week ago, we’re three weeks out from the City of Milwaukee’s mask order, and maybe seeing positive outcomes from that critical step.
“Without clear national guidelines and national policies on issues such as testing, physical distancing, and masking, we’ve seen significant diversity among the different states and the different regions of our country. While we see uncontrolled spread and high positivity in many areas in the south of the United States, we’re witnessing very low positivity levels in the northeastern states—and in the Midwest, a concerning gradual rise in positivity. We in Wisconsin and specifically here in Milwaukee County have the opportunity to continue the promising trends that I discussed earlier, and to further push down our positivity rates. By following the statewide mask order, by continuing physical distancing, and by being aware of our surroundings and cautious in our activities, and by seeking out testing when we’re symptomatic or we have concern for COVID-19 infection, we can set ourselves apart from other parts of the country and move in the right direction.
“The mayor talked about the change in testing sites. Despite these fluctuations in testing sites, we still have six Community Health Center sites. We have 11 Health System sites, two National Guard sites, and six pharmacy-based sites that can be found on the Impact 2-1-1 website, or accessed by calling 2-1-1.
“We’ve talked about the sacrifices inherent in this pandemic. We’re all making some sacrifices and many of us know individuals and families that are making much more severe sacrifices. But through each of our small sacrifices, these small changes in our lifestyles, we seem to be making progress. As I said, we’ll have ups and downs to be sure, especially with the school year starting, with the fall approaching and flu season behind that. But if we continue to be vigilant we can give ourselves and our community the best chance to decrease the burden of disease and minimize the number of people who have to make those severe sacrifice.”