Racine County: ‘Alarming’ records for COVID deaths, new cases, positive tests in November – Journal Times

1December 2020


RACINE COUNTY — At least 52 people in Racine County died from COVID-19 in November, the most in any month by far since the beginning of the pandemic, the county reported this week.

From Nov. 3-30, 5,323 new cases were identified in Racine County, also a record; it broke October’s record high of about 3,000. A third Racine County high set in November was that 29.38% of COVID-19 tests conducted in Racine County came back positive, nearly doubling October’s record rate of about 15%.

In a Monday news release, Racine County officials called those numbers “alarming.”

Tony Evers headshot in a mask


“While many families were taking some time together, resting and celebrating the holiday, the virus wasn’t taking a break,” Gov. Tony Evers said during a virtual news conference Tuesday, before noting how gatherings with people outside one’s own household carry the danger of becoming superspreader events. Evers said last week that he would celebrate the holiday with only his wife and not his extended family as he normally would.

Andrea Palm, Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee


Andrea Palm, secretary-designee of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, kept her instructions for Wisconsinites simple as the pandemic rages on: “Do not interact with people you do not live with.”

Evers added: “We need your help to box in the virus and stop the spread. Too many Wisconsinites will celebrate this holiday season without a loved one for the first time because they lost the battle to this virus.”

A bipartisan message

Robin Vos in a mask headshot


U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis.


Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, a Republican from Rochester, and Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan appear together in a new ad by Wisconsin’s “Stop the COVID Spread!” coalition, a group of more than 125 of the state’s health care, business and advocacy organizations.

“After another election, it’s clear we have differences, but we can also agree,” Vos says in the ad. “We can still live our lives and be sensible and safe.”

Says Pocan: “We have to do all we can to stay safe.”

Both elected officials address the importance of wearing masks, washing hands, keeping physical distance from others and staying home whenever possible.

“Wisconsin needs unified responses to the COVID pandemic and aligning around a common message is critical,” Eric Borgerding, CEO of the Wisconsin Hospital Association, a co-chair of the coalition, said in a statement.

Statewide, another daily death record was set Tuesday with 107 deaths from COVID-19 being reported, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services; the old one-day record was 104 deaths, set on Nov. 24.

Also Tuesday, the 7-day rolling average for new cases fell to 3,905; although that average is triple the numbers that were being reported prior to mid-September, it’s actually the lowest average reported since the end of October.

“We’ve gotten into a cadence that is way too high,” Palm said of the growing totals of new cases and deaths.

Ryan Westergaard


“There’s so many cases,” added Dr. Ryan Westergaard, Wisconsin’s chief medical officer.

Still, Tuesday’s triple-digit death toll might not tell the whole story: Although the 7-day rolling average for coronavirus deaths in Wisconsin remains much higher now than it was from March through September (when the average was never more than 15 deaths per day), the rolling average has dropped from about 50 per day from late October through mid-November down to just more than 40 deaths per day from late November into Tuesday.

Of that drop, Palm said people should “wait and see” rather than jump to conclusions that COVID-19 is becoming less prevalent in Wisconsin.

“We certainly saw less demand for testing over the long holiday weekend and saw less community testing sites open over the long holiday weekend,” Palm said. “I am hoping there is something real there in that decline … we need to wait and see how the numbers shake out.”

More than 1,800 people in Wisconsin were hospitalized because of virus on Tuesday, with nearly 1 out of every 4 of them being in an intensive care unit. Medical staff at the Alternate Care Facility at State Fair Park, often referred to as the state’s “last line of defense” and “insurance policy” against COVID-19, also was treating seven patients Tuesday.

“Wisconsin is in crisis right now,” Palm said. “Our hospitals are still strained.”

David Wahlberg of Lee Newspapers contributed to this report.

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