North central Wis. only region in state growing in COVID-19 hospitalizations

The COVID-19 variant spreading in state is more contagious and deadly
Published: May. 4, 2021 at 6:32 PM CDT
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Wis. (WSAW) - North central Wisconsin is the only region in the state to see hospitalizations for COVID-19 growing, while the rest of the state is not seeing a significant change in hospitalizations.

According to Wisconsin Department of Health Services data, hospitalizations and the use of intensive care units are at manageable levels, but the region is at the levels seen between late August and early September with about 28 patients hospitalized and 12 patients in the ICU. That is a 62% increase from mid-April. Statewide, new positive cases doubled from the beginning of April to mid-April, peaking at more than 1,000 new cases a day.

“We know when we see increases in cases that within the next, usually, 10-20 days we’re going to see increases in hospitalizations and then shortly after that, we’re going to see increases in deaths,” Julie Willems Van Dijk, DHS deputy secretary said during a call with Wisconsin journalists.

Two weeks after the rise in cases there was a rise in deaths with 34 at that time. There were 11 new deaths reported Tuesday.

Dr. Ryan Westergaard, DHS’ chief medical officer and state epidemiologist, said there are several factors to explain the rise in deaths, including what Willems Van Dijk mentioned, but one big reason is the particular strain of COVID-19 that is spreading in the community.

“The virus that is spreading is more likely to cause severe disease and death than the virus that we had six months ago and that’s likely the case in all age groups.”

He stated the largest research paper on the B117 variant, which was initially discovered in the United Kingdom, found it was almost 64% more deadly than the previous strain spreading in the community.

Willems Van Dijk said while Wisconsin is not at the case levels seen in the fall, the state is nowhere near community immunity yet where the virus would be less likely to spread and mutate. She encourages people to get their questions about the vaccines answered and hoped people ultimately choose to get vaccinated, urging the vaccines are safe. The Pfizer vaccine expects to submit its application for full approval of its vaccine this month.

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