THU AM News: DHS predicts coronavirus infections to peak in three to six weeks; COVID-19 death disparity in Milwaukee, statewide

— Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm predicts the state’s coronavirus peak will happen in the next three to six weeks. The peak and an extension of “Safer at Home” depends on how much in-person voting contributed to the virus spreading. 

Palm told Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce in a webinar the prediction is based on how well Wisconsin continues to implement Gov. Tony Evers’ “safer at home” order and “what the impact yesterday’s election might have on transmission rate.”

“We’re going to have to deal that into our model as the data becomes more available and it becomes more clear what Tuesday did to us,” she said.  

The doubling time for infection has been closer to five days rather than 3.4 days in early March which Palm said “is a good sign.” 

“We believe at this point, based on our model, based on the four or five other models that are  floating around, that our peak is anywhere from the next three weeks to probably six weeks,” she said. 

A second wave of COVID-19, or a fall wave, is expected based on the experience of previous outbreaks, according to Palm. 

“I think everybody assumes that this virus will perform similarly and that you will see another wave in the fall into the winter,” she said. 

DHS is watching “folks around the globe” who have experienced coronavirus first “to teach us and let the virus teach us how it’s going to behave longer term until we have real medical intervention,” said Palm.

See the full story: 

— Wisconsin county health departments report 101 deaths in Wisconsin due to COVID-19, while the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reports 2,756 confirmed cases. 

That’s nine more deaths and 178 more cases than the previous day. 

Of those confirmed cases, 29 percent have been hospitalized, according to DHS.

Counties reporting the most deaths are Milwaukee (56), Dane (11), Ozaukee (8) and Waukesha (5). 

Washington County reports three deaths.

Fond du Lac, Outagamie, Racine, Rock, Sauk and Sheboygan counties report two deaths each.  

Kenosha, Iron, Buffalo, Columbia, Waupaca and Winnebago counties report one death each. 

Twenty percent of patients who have tested positive for coronavirus are between the ages of 50- 59. This is followed by people ages 60-69 (19 percent) and 40-49 (17 percent).

In Wisconsin, women make up 53 percent of the confirmed cases, but account for 38 percent of deaths. Meanwhile, men make up 47 percent of confirmed cases, but account for 62 percent of the total deaths.  

Click here for coronavirus resources and information: 

— Seventy-three percent of the people who’ve been killed by the coronavirus in Milwaukee County are African-American. But at the same time, African-Americans make up just 26 percent of the county’s population. 

And the disparity looks to be statewide. African Americans make up 26.9 of total confirmed cases, but account for 42.4 percent of the deaths in Wisconsin, according to the Department of Health Services. 

This ratio mirrors a trend being seen around the country, in which African-American communities face a higher death toll than other groups, according to data reported by the Washington Post. 

The Chicago area has a similar breakdown, as does the entire state of Louisiana, the report shows. 

Dr. Jeanette Kowalik, commissioner of the Milwaukee Health Department, attributes this trend to “artifacts of segregation” including redlining and other systemic racism. 

“Looking at the impact of COVID-19 by race and ethnicity is very significant for the city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County at large,” she said yesterday during a webinar hosted by MMAC. “Now that there’s more attention on this, and we’re looking at other jurisdictions around the country, we’re seeing some similar patterns.” 

Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, notes the county accounts for about 54 percent of all coronavirus cases statewide. 

“This is hitting part of our community in a really, really challenging way,” he said during yesterday’s webinar. 

Kowalik sees the trend as further justification for dismantling “structures of racism” in the economy, noting “there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.” 

“Whenever you have a situation — a perfect storm, if you will — anything that’s already stressed or fragile is going to be magnified, so that’s what we’re seeing right now,” she said. 

According to a Milwaukee County website, 652 of the county’s 1,416 people with confirmed cases of the virus are African-American, while 362 are white. The racial status for another 353 patients hasn’t been reported. 

— Medical College of Wisconsin President Dr. John Raymond says the daily growth rate for new COVID-19 cases in the state continues to improve. 

In yesterday’s webinar from MMAC and MCW, Raymond noted the daily growth rate has come down from over 30 percent nearly two weeks ago to just over 12 percent for both the city and state. Meanwhile, the doubling rate is also improving, reaching about 5.7 days. 

“This is excellent news,” he said yesterday. “But we do want to see the doubling rate stretch out to over seven days and beyond and soon as possible, so we can avoid overwhelming the capacity of ventilators and ICU beds.” 

By studying the disease’s progression in places like Italy, Spain, Seattle, New York, Detroit and New Orleans, he says care providers are “learning more about effective ways” to deploy ventilators and triage COVID-19 patients who are struggling to breathe. 

Also during yesterday’s webinar, Raymond pointed to an emerging new cluster of cases in West Allis, which was identified from a heatmap at the Milwaukee Health Department’s website. 

“This new cluster highlights that we must continue to push hard, be vigilant and to act with a sense of urgency, so that we can continue to flatten the curve,” he said. 

See the Milwaukee County case dashboard: 

— Under social distancing guidelines, many care providers have ramped up their use of telemedicine with support from Epic software. 

“We went from about 200 video visits a year to more than 12,000 a week. Epic’s telehealth infrastructure allowed us to turn on a dime to accomplish this,” said Dr. Keith Griffin, chief medical information officer for Novant Health, a health system with hospitals in Virginia and North and South Carolina. 

According to the Madison-based electronic health records company, its software has medical records for more than 60 percent of U.S. patients. Epic has helped more than 200 customers establish or expand telehealth programs. 

At UC San Diego Health, the percentage of primary care visits increased from around 6 percent on March 6 to more than 50 percent now. And at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, the number of virtual care doctors rose from 20 to 1,300 in several days. The release shows more than 70 percent of the provider’s visits are being done remotely. 

Sharon Wobeter, Epic’s telehealth lead for NYU Langone, said one of the hospital’s main challenges was enabling virtual visits, “so we moved the clinical side to a mobile app.” 

“We’re now working to expand into the hospital,” she said in a release. “Doctors and nurses will be able to talk to each other remotely and check in on patients without going into the rooms, limiting exposure and saving protective equipment like masks.”

— Foxconn had more than 550 employees in the state and spent more than $208 million in Wisconsin last year, according to a report in the Milwaukee Business Journal. 

The report shows the total jobs number is high enough to qualify for tax credits under Foxconn’s deal with the state. 

See more in Foxconn Reports below. 

— A web portal launched by members of the Madison startup and tech community aims to connect people with short- and long-term employment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The platform was created by the Madison Entrepreneur Community of Collaborators. 

See the portal here:


# Robots deliver food — and relief — to UW students still on campus during COVID-19

# The Pfister Hotel temporarily closes due to COVID-19

# Turner Hall will be converted to CNN Grill for Democratic convention

# As pandemic spreads, officials expect it will strain finances for Wisconsin’s rural hospitals



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– How much business was lost with business closures? [UW] Report says 52% drop in foot traffic

– What’s essential during pandemic order? Residents, employees join employers seeking clarification


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– Wisconsin communities prepare as Mississippi River hits flood stage


– Carnevor responds to demand with curbside service


– Foxconn reports more than 550 employees, $208M in Wisconsin spending last year


– UW Hospital to treat COVID-19 patients with survivor blood starting next week

– Gundersen temporarily furloughing, reducing hours of some staff due to COVID-19

– As Pandemic Spreads, Officials Expect It Will Strain Finances For Wisconsin’s Rural Hospitals

– Advanced Pain Management warns of possible clinic closures, layoffs

– ‘Too early to tell’ whether Gov. Evers will lift Safer At Home order: Health secretary Palm


– Plastics manufacturer transitions to making face shields for health care workers 

– Rockwell, Enerpac and Twin Disc are latest to announce cuts and cost saving actions


– Wisconsin GOP’s coronavirus bill sets up political skirmish


– Zilber plans new industrial building in Granville corporate park


– Wausau coronavirus updates: Hobby Lobby lays off nearly 650 workers across Wisconsin, including Rib Mountain

– WisEye Morning Minute: WGA President [Scholz] on the State of Grocery Stores


– PGA says it’s not postponing Ryder Cup at Wisconsin’s Whistling Straits


– The Pfister Hotel temporarily closes during the COVID-19 pandemic


– TDS Telecom launches new gigabit internet, new services in about 1,000 Stevens Point homes 


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