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North Central Wisconsin counties see COVID-19 case surge

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(WAOW) -- Counties in the News 9 area (Adams, Clark, Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Oneida, Portage, Price, Shawano, Taylor, Vilas, Waupaca, Wood) have seen a 64% increase in COVID-19 cases since Sept. 30.

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When you break it down by county, Marathon and Portage have some of the highest total case counts with 3,016 and 2,065 respectively.

But some of the counties that may have fewer cases, are actually seeing a more rapid increase in cases.

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The counties with the greatest increase in cases, in the News 9 area, are:

  • Langlade: 161%
  • Price: 99%
  • Lincoln: 95%
  • Marathon: 94%
  • Oneida: 71%

Health experts say the surge in many counties is due to social gatherings.

"I don't want to say exclusively, but very much associated with just social gatherings, and social gatherings of any size," said Ray Przybelski with Portage County Health and Human Services. "We've had outbreaks of just a couple of families getting together. And we've had outbreaks from large parties, weddings, and funerals, and things like that."

COVID-19 related deaths are also seeing a sharp increase in those 14 counties. Since Sept. 30, deaths have increased by 89%.

All of this means resources are being stretched thin.

Local health departments say they're having trouble keeping up with contact tracing.

And hospitals are filling up in the area. According to the Wisconsin DHS, hospitals in the north central region are at 86% capacity. Thirty people in the north central reason are on ventilators.

Hospital capacity across the state is also peaking, with a new statewide record of over 1,000 patients currently hospitalized.

"That's why we need the alternate care facility to be open and available for patients who need to be transferred from hospitals across the state," DHS Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm said.

Sarah McGrew

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