Labor Day weekend results in record COVID-19 metrics; State reports first eastern equine encephalitis death, unusually high levels of EEE

— Labor Day weekend and college students’ return to campus brought record daily COVID-19 case percentages to Wisconsin. 

Friday’s record of 12.8 percent was passed yesterday with a 16.2 percent positive case rate. 

Those record counts brought the seven-day average of daily confirmed cases up to 10.2 percent, a figure that’s been rising since Thursday. The preferred rate is below 5 percent.

Yesterday, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services recorded 567 new COVID-19 cases and a 10.4 percent positivity rate after receiving a total of 5,466 tests. The new cases brought the seven-day average of daily confirmed cases up to 880 from 837. While this is an increase, that average has been steadily declining since it reached the highest average of 930 cases on July 26, according to DHS. 

The state’s cumulative case count is 81,760, with 72,478 recovered. Meanwhile, 1.4 percent of patients have died.

The COVID-19 death toll in Wisconsin remains at 1,168. 

Counties reporting deaths include: Milwaukee (502), Racine (91), Waukesha (78), Kenosha (65), Brown (58), Dane (40), Walworth (32), Washington (29), Rock (28), Outagamie (21), Winnebago (21), Waupaca (19), Grant (18), Ozaukee (18), Marathon (14), Fond du Lac (12), Sheboygan (9), Clark (8), Jefferson (7), Marinette (7), St. Croix (7), Eau Claire (6), Pierce (6), Dodge (6), Forest (4) and Richland (4).

Adams, Barron, Door, Oconto, Sauk, Taylor and Wood counties report three deaths each. 

Buffalo, Burnett, Calumet, Columbia, Green, Kewaunee, La Crosse, Langlade, Manitowoc, Monroe, Polk, Portage, Trempealeau and Waushara counties report two deaths each.

Ashland, Bayfield, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, Lincoln, Marquette, Oneida and Rusk counties report one death each.

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— Younger age groups have more confirmed COVID-19 cases and higher rates of illness than other age groups.

Current data show that those in the 25-34 age group have 14,620 confirmed cases — higher than all other age groups. That’s closely followed by the 18-24 age range, which has the highest rate of illness at 26.4 cases per 1,000 people. 

Based on public health interviews, people in the 18-34 age range report they are engaging in behaviors that put them more at risk for COVID-19, like attending social gatherings without staying at least six feet apart and not wearing masks, according to DHS.

“We encourage everyone, regardless of age but particularly for those younger Wisconsinites, to be safe should they choose to spend time with people outside of their homes,” said DHS Secretary Andrea Palm.

Contact tracers have found that fewer people are staying home with 20 percent of total confirmed cases reporting attending a gathering, party, or meeting up with people outside their homes within two weeks prior to testing positive for COVID-19, according to DHS. This has increased from June, which was at 14 percent, and May, which was 7 percent.

This percentage is even higher among younger adults.

“Even if you are asymptomatic, you can still spread the virus to others,” Palm said. “Face coverings, along with physical distancing, good hand hygiene, and limiting interactions with people you do not live with are the most effective tools we have to stop the spread.”

— In response to the increase in cases on the UW-Madison campus, Chancellor Rebecca Blank sent a message to undergraduate students yesterday that their movement will be restricted for the next 14 days. 

As of yesterday, UW-Madison has recorded 18,503 negative coronavirus tests and 605 positive tests, resulting in a 3.2 percent positive rate, up from 1.7 percent at the start of Labor Day weekend. Yesterday was the university’s highest daily positivity rate at 7.8 percent.

To do this, UW cancelled all in-person social events and student meetings, closed campus gyms and recreation centers and dining halls and is not allowing visitors in the residence halls. 

“In particular, I am asking all undergraduates to avoid social gatherings,” Blank wrote. “ These are the major cause of the spread we have seen.”

— Nine UW-Madison fraternities and sororities with off-campus live-in housing have been told to quarantine for at least 14 days by the university and the county health department.

This is in response to the 38 of 420 total members who contracted COVID-19 as of Sept. 2. 

“Our goal is to stop any further spread of the virus among our students and the broader community,” said Jake Baggott, executive director of University Health Services. “We’re working closely with county health officials, student leaders, chapter advisors, and the housing corporations that own the chapter houses to address this quickly and thoroughly.”

There are approximately 1,500 students living in recognized fraternity and sorority chapter houses out of a total community of 5,000 members. 

All other members of the chapters and all live-in members of the 38 other chapters must be tested for COVID-19 at a university testing site, according to a UW-Madison release.

Violating isolation and quarantine orders could result in a court order for involuntary quarantine and-or a fine of up to $10,000, according to Public Health Madison & Dane County. Failure to comply also will result in university sanctions against students who violate a quarantine directive.

Health officials have warned that communal living in chapter houses, where members share bathroom and dining facilities, poses greater opportunity for COVID-19 transmission.

See the UW-Madison coronavirus data dashboard here: 

— A Chippewa County woman in her 60s died this weekend from eastern equine encephalitis, the first EEE death in the state and the second human case in Wisconsin so far this year, according to DHS. 

The two human cases and nine cases reported in horses this year represent “unusually high levels” of EEE activity in the state.

“We are very sad to report that one of our fellow Wisconsinites has contracted EEE and has passed away. This is the second confirmed case of EEE in our state this year and the seriousness of this infection cannot be overstated,” said state Health Officer Stephanie Smiley. “Since mosquitoes continue to be active in Wisconsin, we are urging people to continue to take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites.”

EEE virus can affect people of all ages. Symptoms begin anywhere from three to 10 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Inflammation and swelling of the brain, called encephalitis, is the most dangerous and frequent serious complication. In Wisconsin, the last human case of EEE was reported in 2017.

EEE can be spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes acquire EEE virus by feeding on infected birds.

Even though temperatures are cooling off in Wisconsin, as long as mosquitoes are active, the risk of EEE can continue through much of the fall. The single best prevention tool continues to be avoiding mosquito bites, according to DHS.


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– As Harvest Begins, Wisconsin Apple Orchards Hope Customers Return With New COVID-19 Practices 

– Early frost a real possibility in the Midwest 

– Corn rootworm a likely 2021 threat 

– State Cheese Production Climbs for Second Straight Month 

– Dairy Economy Roller Coaster Continuing Through Summer 


– Associated Bank to close 14 branches in Wisconsin 


– UW-Madison Restricts Student Movement Amid Coronavirus Spike 

– COVID-19 Positives On The Rise At Some Wisconsin Universities 


– Five Finalists Selected for Wisconsin Leopold Conservation Award 


– Wisconsin Tribes Receive $4M To Support Safe Housing During The Pandemic 


– Rogers Behavioral Health expands into Sheboygan, adds transitional-living concept 

– Allen-Edmonds, Harken USA wrap up mask supply initiative for Froedtert, others health systems 

– Covid-19 hospitalizations dip in Milwaukee, southeast Wisconsin, but virus ‘still out there’ 

– Researchers At UW Focus On Diversity In COVID-19 Vaccine Trial 


– After historic revenue drop, ManpowerGroup CEO sees opportunity in labor market changes 

– Employers cautious as they plan how workers will return to the office  


– Labor Day Draws Vice Presidential Candidates To Wisconsin 


– Wells Building in downtown Milwaukee sold for $7.25 million 

– Luther Group acquires four New Berlin industrial buildings for $16 million 


– Michael’s Frozen Custard loses Monroe Street lease after 34 years


– Small businesses wanted stimulus, but got a payroll tax deferral instead. Many are opting out. 


– Milwaukee Bucks partnering with other NBA, WNBA teams on racial injustice summit 

– DNR Wardens Expect Busy Archery, Crossbow Deer Seasons Amid Pandemic 

– Traveling men? As opener approaches, Packers ready for a new experience – leaving the cozy, COVID-free cocoon of Lambeau Field


– COVID disruption will push back third phase of Milwaukee County Zoo’s Adventure Africa project 

– Milwaukee Film plans for virtual festivals, renovations at Oriental Theatre 


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