Rock Co. hits CDC’s highest COVID-19 community transmission level

A map displaying community transmission levels of COVID-19 in Wisconsin on Tuesday, August 3,...
A map displaying community transmission levels of COVID-19 in Wisconsin on Tuesday, August 3, 2021. The data reflected in the map is for a seven-day period ending August 2, 2021.(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 2:42 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 3, 2021 at 4:34 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - As more and more Wisconsin counties find themselves among the locations where federal health agencies recommend people wear masks indoors, Rock Co. crossed the threshold into the most severe category.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest COVID-19 community transmission map Tuesday showed more counties having crossed into that highest category than any time since the agency updated its guidelines.

Under that newest advisory, anyone, regardless of their vaccination status, in a county rating as having a ‘high’ community transmission level or that fell into the less severe ‘substantial’ ranking should wear a mask when at indoor public locations or when attending indoor private gatherings.

The CDC’s advisory was followed almost immediately by Public Health Madison and Dane Co. and the next day by the state Dept. of Health Services urging people to wear masks. Dane Co. health officials’ warning came before the county crossed into the ‘substantial’ category, where it remains along with an overwhelming majority of southern Wisconsin.

The Rock Co. Public Health Department, too, issued updated mask guidance last week. In a statement Friday, county health officials pointed out the rising cases over the preceding month along with the increased presence of the more contagious Delta variant of the virus. At the time, they noted the county reached a level where masks are recommended, and urged everyone, vaccinated or not, to wear a mask in public.

Additionally, the agency reminded everyone that, while this latest guidance was a recommendation, there are still places in which masks are mandated, including: health care settings, airplanes, public transportation, correctional facilities, and homeless shelters.

The health department added it would continue to track the CDC’s community transmission levels, but, citing the day-to-day fluctuations of the map, officials stated they make any policy decisions only on a weekly basis. The map has shown many counties rising – and occasionally dropping – between categories. However, the trendlines show community transmission worsening as a rising number of counties move into the orange and red categories, signifying substantial and high transmission, respectively.

Columbia Co. Public Health moved into the substantial level of community transmission Tuesday, showing a transmission of 10-50 cases per 100,000.

On Tuesday, DHS numbers show the state recorded 1,391 new cases, the highest number since February and only second time in more than four months that the total reached four digits – the other time being just four days ago. The seven-day rolling average also reached 854 cases per day over the past week, a level not seen in more than a half of a year.

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