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Experts looking for root cause of Wisconsin COVID-19 spike

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MADISON (WKOW) -- 33 states and Puerto Rico have a rising number of coronavirus infections.

One of the biggest increases is in Wisconsin.

More than one in five tests came back positive Monday, also keeping the seven-day average at nearly 20 percent.

In just 8 days, the state went from 100,000 total cases to more than 117,000.

With cases increasing so rapidly, experts are trying to find out why this is happening.

Dr. Jeff Pothoff with UW Health says that the current situation in Wisconsin doesn't paint a good picture.

However, Dane County is one of the two counties in the entire state where the Department of Health Services is showing a downward trend in cases over the past two weeks.

More than half of Wisconsin counties show an increasing trend in cases with Ozaukee, Price and Lafayette counties in the top three.

Dr. Pothof says hospitals outside of Dane County are coming close to their limits, what he called an early cry for help.

He says while there are many reasons why this is spiking now, like college students returning and spread in rural areas, the only thing unique to Wisconsin could be behavior.

"I know what works to keep the virus contained and it's those three things we talk about, you gotta keep your distance, wash your hands and wear a mask," Dr. Pothof said. "If we're seeing an increase in cases, the only logical conclusion is that we're not doing those things as effectively."

If this continues, he is worried that peoples' resolve will waver come the winter months.

Pothof doesn't believe the bulk of the population is causing this spike, but that it doesn't take many people acting out of line to get cases to quickly start spreading.

As for a possible solution, he thinks using contact tracing data to target specific areas or industries where the most spread is happening could be the best way to stop this current spike.

"It allows you to be a little bit more strategic where you don't have to do complete state shut downs where you may unintentionally affect an industry or an area that isn't the problem," Dr. Pothof said. "Hopefully through contact tracing we get a little bit more strategic about what is the issue, what's going on."

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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