Wisconsin’s acting Health Secretary Andrea Palm.
(The Center Square) – The people in charge of tracking the coronavirus in Wisconsin do not know where the vast majority of people are catching the virus.
In a call with reporters on Tuesday, Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer of the Bureau of Communicable Diseases with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, said they have not been able to track about 80 percent of new coronavirus cases.
“We have incomplete data related to all of these exposures,” Westergaard said.
Last week, DHS said about 20 percent of new cases were traced back to local bars or restaurants across the state. The spike in cases prompted Madison and Dane County to order bars and restaurants to close again, and pushed Madison and Dane County to order people to wear masks. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett signed his city’s mask requirement Tuesday.
But what little DHS does know about the recent uptick in coronavirus cases makes it unclear how effective mask requirements are.
“Without specific proportions, the other large categories [of coronavirus cases] is household contact,” Westergaard said. “People that live in close contact with each other. If someone develops an infection either at a workplace or a gathering, transmission through household contacts is still common.”
Neither Madison’s nor Milwaukee’s face mask mandates require people to wear masks in their home or around their families.
Westergaard said the other hot spots for the coronavirus are workplaces and long-term care facilities.
But he said it’s now known for sure just which workplaces and which long-term care facilities.
“A lot of our public health departments are making many, many calls and tend to have a backlog of investigations,” Westergaard said. “They are doing the best they can, but there’s going to be some imprecise things about the overall proportions.”
Westergaard and DHS Secretary Andrea Palm on Tuesday said Wisconsin set a new daily record with 964 new positive tests. The state also set a new daily record with 13,716 negative tests. DHS is reporting 293 people in the hospital because of the coronavirus, of which 83 are in intensive care units.