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Local COVID-19

DHS launches ‘Keep Kids Safe and in School’ campaign in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19

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COVID-19 cases are not peaking yet in Wisconsin but could soon be.

Right now, the state is averaging more than 18-thousand new cases a day.

It’s the highest disease activity the state has seen since the start of the pandemic.

“I think the reason for optimism is that there are some jurisdictions that seem to have a decline in the last week. I think we can be hopeful that we are near the peak, if not there are already, but unfortunately have not yet seen that with our data,” said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, Chief Medical Officer for the DHS Bureau of Communicable Diseases.

Westergaard says the bigger question is how quickly cases will drop off after we’ve hit that peak.

Some models predict cases could drop off as quickly as the rose in recent weeks.

“I think the important message is that we can get that decline to happen quicker if we implement all of the prevention strategies and wear masks and do the things that we’re talking about to try and stop transmission as much as we can,” said Westergaard.

Those strategies include getting vaccinated, wear a well-fitted mask, stay home if you’re sick, and get tested.

The Department of Health Services is also focusing on kids as part of preventing the spread of the virus.

Since the end of August, children in Wisconsin have made up one in five new confirmed cases of COVID-19.

DHS is launching a “Keep Kids Safe and in School” campaign in response to rising cases.

Statewide only 18% of children ages 5 to 11 are fully vaccinated. Nearly 54% of 12- to 17-year-olds are vaccinated. Those numbers are significantly lower in most Northwoods counties.

Dr. Jasmine Zapata spoke about the importance of getting your kids vaccinated during DHS’s media briefing Thursday.

She’s a mother, a pediatrician, and the Chief Medical Officer for the DHS Bureau of Community Health Promotion.

“COVID-19 safety is not just about individual health for our children but our entire state and there’s a growing body of research that is showing that COVID-19 can have serious on our children,” said Zapata.

Zapata pointed to a recent study that showed an increase of diabetes in children after they’ve had a COVID-19 infection.

She also says getting kids vaccinated is just as important for mental health as it is physical health.

“There’s many studies that show is a very, very important environment for children to continue to develop life skills that are going to be very important. It also helps them cope with some of the very things now in this pandemic,” she said. “The COVID vaccine can keep kids in the classroom, and it can help them build connections with their teachers and peers that are so crucial for their mental well-being.”

In addition to vaccines, Zapata says children should be wearing well-fitting masks, take part in school COVID testing programs as needed, and stay home if sick to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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