Surge in Covid-19 cases linked to gatherings

County health officials roll back opening advice in response to infection spike, lack of distancing
Ozaukee Press staff

The number of Covid-19 cases in Ozaukee County has surged over the past week, and especially over the weekend, according to the Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department.

Two weeks after the Independence Day holiday — from Friday, July 17, to Monday, July 20 — the number of Covid-19 cases in Ozaukee County increased by 47, from 375 to 422.

The number jumped by 89 — from 347 on Tuesday, July 14, to 436 on Tuesday, July 21 — the day Wisconsin recorded 1,100 new cases, setting a single-day record for the state.

“It was a heavy, heavy weekend,” Bailey Murph, the health department’s senior public health strategist, said Tuesday.

There were roughly 40 new cases confirmed in the two counties on Saturday and 35 on Sunday, she said.

The health department on Tuesday issued new capacity recommendations for the various risk levels, Murph said. 

Ozaukee County is considered at high risk, and the recommendations call for bars, festivals, concerts, indoor and outdoor recreational facilities, large venues such as museums, religious facilities and gyms to operate at 25% capacity while retail operations and restaurants should operate at 50%.

“Unfortunately, this is a rollback in our guidance,” Murph said. 

“It’s been a slow trickle, then we had things like the Fourth of July weekend.”

Murph said that officials attribute the recent increase in cases to the fact people are socializing more, going to family gatherings or social events, spreading the virus.

“Things have opened up more,” she said. “The weather’s gotten better and people are out more. 

“We think that’s contributed a lot to this increase. We understand people want to go out and congregate ... but it can have a terrible impact on their family.

“People have a sense of security, but it’s a false sense. We are seeing an increase in cases.”

Murph noted that in March and April, when the pandemic began, people who tested positive reported having a handful of close contacts who may have been exposed to the virus.

“Now we have people reporting 20 or 25 or more close contacts,” she said. 

She added that the health department is  seeing more children and people in their 20s and 30s testing positive. The number of people aged 20 to 29 who have Covid-19 is matching the numbers for people aged 50 to 59, Murph said, and the number of cases of children ages 10 to 19 is growing.

Many of the young adults have reported going to bars and social gatherings, she said.

The department recommends against holding large gatherings, whether they will be attended only by family or the public, Murph said.

Recently, she said, someone emailed the department asking for guidance on holding an event expected to draw 1,000 people.

“Our recommendation is to cancel. There’s just too much risk,” she said.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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