Think of this as the stocking-stuffer you don’t want this holiday season.
As Wisconsin topped more than 5,000 cases of COVID-19 in a single day recently, counties are seeing a spike that is not contributed to any one factor.
But almost one-third of those getting the virus in the county are 17 years old and under, according to local health officials.
But the new omicron variant is not yet to blame.
“At this time, it is Delta, Thanksgiving, and overall community spread,” said Samroz Jakvani, epidemiologist for the Jefferson County Health Department.
The seven-day average of cases in the county is at 477, that’s the highest mark since last December.
“We have seen an increase every week, and deaths continue,” Jakvani said.
“There is no single reason, and 0-17 continued to experience the highest proportion of cases (29%) in November (25% in October, 28% in September).”
Wisconsin also hit another milestone in the last few days — the number of confirmed and probably cases of the virus topped 1 million in this state since the start of the pandemic.
Also last week, Wisconsin’s top health officials said that 270 health care facilities in the state have requested staffing help from the federal government.
Locally, Fort HealthCare has seen the uptick in people coming in and testing positive for the virus.
“We have seen an increase in people with COVID-19,” said Nicole Leibman, marketing manager for Fort HealthCare. “The challenges associated with the uptick in cases in Wisconsin is also affecting Fort HealthCare.”
She said the hospital seeing a higher volume of patients also affects the necessary staffing to help them.
“The staffing challenges in healthcare are creating a ‘pandemic’ within the pandemic,” she said.
“The current COVID-19 patient surge impacts all aspects of care delivery and is severely straining the ability to care for non-COVID patients.”
A vaccination push by local and state health officials comes at a time when the new omicron variant is now in Wisconsin. While areas that have had the omicron variant have reported more mild symptoms, health officials are still studying the variant that is believed to transmit easier than Delta.
“We need our community to become vaccinated, wear masks, and limit close contact with others,” Leibman said. “We can get through this if we utilize the tools, knowledge and resources that we know can protect us.”
She said the hospital staff is working tirelessly to ensure that patients are cared for.
“It has been a challenging time, but we have been able to navigate it, we just need the community to continue with safe precautions.” she said.
As of Friday, 56.3% of state residents are fully vaccinated with 59.3% having received at least one dose.
As of last week, more than 67% of those over 18 were fully vaccinated.
People who are not vaccinated are 11-times more likely to be hospitalized and 15-times more likely to die than those who have been inoculated against COVID-19, according to the state health department.
There were 1,630 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 last week in the state, up by 212 over the previous week. Nearly all intensive care beds — 97% — are currently filled as are 98% of intermediary care beds, said Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Karen Timberlake.
Areas seeing the most cases are also the most populated in the state. Milwaukee County saw 2,951 people test positive for the virus in the last seven days. Dane County saw 1,391, while Brown County 1,287.
Dodge County has seen 425 cases in the last seven days.
Hospitals in the Fox Valley and north central Wisconsin report having only one or two intensive care unit beds available.
“It’s incredibly important for folks to wear a mask in public settings or gatherings, stay home when sick, and get tested when appropriate (upon exposure or when feeling sick),” Jakvani said
“The vast majority of patients hospitalized and dying are not vaccinated, and in the high-risk categories.”
Hospitals in the northwestern and western part of the state reported having no ICU availability.Across the nation, cases continue to climb and New York announced a mask mandate on Friday for all indoor public places.
The news also comes as Pfizer is now expanding their booster shots to all those 16 and older.