COVID-19 cases reach highest new weekly count in Marathon County as cases climb in rural Wisconsin

COVID-19 testing in Marathon County in May (WSAW Photo)
COVID-19 testing in Marathon County in May (WSAW Photo)(WSAW)
Published: Jun. 26, 2020 at 5:22 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - COVID-19 cases in Marathon County hit 140, with the highest new weekly case count of 39 new cases since the pandemic reached Wisconsin, according to the latest data from the Marathon County Health Department. The rise comes as counties across rural Wisconsin have seen their cases increase since the beginning of June, after cases remained low through April and May.

“We’re seeing transmission happen faster than ever before in our pandemic,” MCHD’s Judy Burrows told NewsChannel 7, referring to case counts in the county. “Our cases this week tend to have a lot more contacts to them than the cases we were seeing a month ago.”

Burrows said that the highest number of cases continues to be in the 20 to 29-year-old age group in the county, and that contact tracing this past week has been taking longer as more individuals testing positive for COVID-19 have been at mass gatherings or home parties. Additionally, Burrows confirmed that it has become more difficult to get people to cooperate with contact tracers, who are responsible for calling individuals testing positive for COVID-19 to determine who they’ve been in close contact with for the purposes of alerting other individuals and slowing the spread of the disease. White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday that nationwide, contact tracing ‘is not going well’.

Data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services shows COVID-19 activity is high in a swath of counties in both southern and central Wisconsin, with a band of through the central part of the state including Marathon, Portage and Clark showing high activity, and both Marathon and Clark showing upward case trajectories (roughly six counties in northern and central Wisconsin showed upward trends on Friday). While hospitalizations remain comparatively low in the north central Healthcare Emergency Readiness Coalition (HERC) area, COVID-19 cases in north central Wisconsin have also reach an all-time high in June at 12 currently hospitalized in the area, according to data last updated on Thursday afternoon.

Several counties in north central Wisconsin show confirmed case counts rising at the end of May and beginning of June after staying low through April and May, including Marathon, Wood and Portage counties. In Wood County, where there are currently a total of 42 overall cases and 17 active cases, contact tracers have also seen a higher number of contacts to trace due in part to gatherings and events, Kristie Rauter-Egge with the Wood County Health Department told NewsChannel 7.

On Friday, the percentage of cases tested coming back positive was also at its highest in almost a month, with 5.7% of tests coming back positive statewide according to DHS data. The state’s death toll remains at 766, with a total of 12 deaths in the north central HERC region of Wisconsin.

“We did a really good job for the first 2-3 months in the pandemic in slowing the spread of the disease,” Burrows noted. “Since the beginning of June we have seen a rapid increase in the number of cases, and its concerning. It really seems to be everywhere.”

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