MONROE — As the nation nears the grim milestone of a million deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic, local officials also are seeing an uptick in cases here and across Wisconsin.
But it is nowhere near enough to change the previous guidance on the disease, said Bridget Craker, a Green County Health Dept. educator who has been focused on COVID-19 issues locally throughout the pandemic. That means we aren’t likely to see a return to masks, aggressive contact tracing and other measures that came to typify life during the pandemic.
“This isn’t anything like last June,” said Craker, referring the spring 2021 surge of the virus. “We were seeing hundreds of cases a week back then.”
Last week, Wednesday, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services logged 2,600 new COVID-19 cases — the most reported on one day since February 8. The DHS says Wisconsin is averaging 1,963 cases per day over the last week, up from an average of 1,925 a day ago, which is the highest 7-day average since February 13. In Green County, for the week of May 4 to May 10, the two-week positive rate increased to 8.9 percent, while the 7-day average remains at just under 11.6 percent, according to health department numbers. Green County has logged 8,874 confirmed cases over the source of the pandemic.
“We are holding out own in terms of numbers,” she said.
In February, after nearly two years responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, Green County Public Health officials announced they were transitioning away “from universal disease investigation and contact tracing for individual cases of COVID-19.”
Instead, public health officials said their time and resources would shift to vaccination, increased “testing, additional education and outbreak” prevention efforts. And that stance is unlikely to change early this summer with the recent uptick in cases, Craker said, adding that the county continues to take its cues from the state health department.
“COVID-19 transmission is happening so rapidly that by the time our team is involved, everyone is already exposed or ill,” RoAnn Warden, Director/Health Officer of Green County Public Health, said at that time.
Most of the new cases are attributable to the BA-2 variant of the virus, which mirrors the trend nationally, said Craker.
“We are seeing a few cases around the county but for the most part it isn’t tied any one specific gathering, event or group,” she said.
In Monroe schools, as of May 11, the number of students, faculty and staff is at about 35, far below the hundreds that the district once saw in the midst of the pandemic and subsequent surges in the region. The majority of those cases were reported in the grade schools, with North Side and Parkview Schools accounting for a combined 26 of the 35 cases in the district.
State and local health departments continue to urge residents to get vaccinated with booster shots, for all who are eligible.
“It is still incredibly important that individuals take actions that will help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the department recently said in a statement.