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Wisconsin DHS sounds alarm on rising COVID-19 cases

Wisconsin DHS

State health officials are concerned about the sharp rise in COVID cases the state is seeing right now.

Cases have been rising since the end of October.

This week, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported its highest single day total of new COVID-19 cases since the surge last winter.

There were 3,981 new cases Tuesday. The state is now averaging nearly 3,000 new cases a day.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ryan Westergaard said the incline reminds him of the surge last fall, but this one concerns him more several reasons.

One, flu cases will be an issue this year. Flu cases were nearly non-existent last year.

Two, hospitals are already strained before we even hit a peak.

Wisconsin DHS

“The biggest tragedy that we in our state and our system will need to try to prevent is having our capacity stretched so thin that we can’t save lives that we normally would be able to save. That’s why we need everyone’s support to flatten the curve as much as we can,” said Westergaard.

He urges people to get vaccinated if you’re not already, get your booster shot if you haven’t, and get a flu shot.

“Continue to pay attention to all the ways we can prevent the spread of respiratory viruses that includes flu and COVID, which is wear masks when you’re indoors and you can’t socially distance. That’s going to remain an important part of our strategy,” said Westergaard.

Vaccination Update

The good news is new people are getting vaccinated and the most vulnerable populations are getting boosters.

DHS is working to update its vaccine information online but says tens of thousands of children between the ages of 5 to 11 have gotten their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

More than 550,000 adults have gotten booster or third doses.

The booster doses have been approved for some people. While some states have opened it to everyone 18 and older, Westergaard said DHS will continue to follow CDC guidance.

At the same time, Westergaard said vaccination sites shouldn’t be turning people away.

“If people make that determination that they’re risk is elevated and want to get a booster, our recommendation is they can get a booster. We should trust people’s self-assessment of their risk. Our instruction to vaccinators is to not turn people away,” he said.

FDA and CDC panels are discussing making the Pfizer booster available to all adults this weeks.

COVID and Hunting

Hunters should take extra COVID precautions this deer season.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has updated its guidance for hunters.

Part of it is in response to recent studies that COVID-19 has been found in deer.

“We in the CDC really at this point don’t think that there is a lot of evidence to show that there is going to be a lot of transmission from deer to humans. There’s not a lot of data to support that, but we would continue to urge hunters to use good practices,” said Traci DeSalvo, Director of the Bureau of Communicable Diseases.

DHS recommends hunters wear rubber or disable gloves when handling and cleaning the carcass.

It also recommends wearing a mask.

While the risk of getting COVID from a deer is minimal, DeSalvo says the greater concern is spreading COVID within your hunting party.

“We of course want to encourage deer hunters to practice all of the normal safety precautions we would talk about for COVID including getting those vaccinations, wearing masks if you’re in crowded indoor spaces or staying in a cabin a different group of people who aren’t your household members,” said DeSalvo.

You cansee full guidelines on its website.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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