Case activity combines case burden and trajectory, per state health officials, and all but seven counties in Wisconsin were in the “critically high” category as of Thursday morning.
“Far too many of our communities are in a dire situation,” Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary of Wisconsin Department of Health Services, said in a news release. “To put these new data in perspective, Wisconsin is now seeing more average cases per day than New York City did at the peak of its surge last spring.”
The health department says Wisconsin’s case activity level has been “critically high” since Oct. 28; the state surged above the “critically high” threshold of 1,000 cases per 100,000 people at 1,311 cases, per the data. Health officials said the new category was also intended to help local officials in decision-making to fight the virus.
Van Dijk said public health officials can no longer keep up with contact tracing amid the surging cases, which is a tactic used to disrupt the chain of virus spread. In late October, North Dakota health officials asked residents to conduct their own contact tracing as a surge in virus cases left contact tracers in the state overwhelmed and strapped for resources. The Midwest has been particularly hard hit, though cases are rising across 49 states, the Associated Press reported.
The news about Wisconsin’s new “critically high” category comes just one day after hospitals within the Mayo Clinic Health System in the northwest region of the state reached 100% capacity, local outlet WQOW reported.
“The public urgently needs to treat COVID-19 as the health emergency it is to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed. We are pleading for everyone’s help to wear a mask and follow all public health guidelines to limit the spread of this disease,” hospital officials said in a statement.
“By helping people see the critically high level of disease in their counties and regions, we hope these data enhancements will help people make important decisions to stay home in order to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Van Dijk added.
Fox News’ Madeline Farber contributed to this report.