ROCK COUNTY (WKOW) -- Rock County's total number of COVID-19 cases has exceeded health department predictions every day since October 9.
The Rock County Public Health Department (RCPHD) released the predictions in an effort to help the community plan for what to expect. It projected the county would have around 3,700 total cases by October 20, with an "upper estimate" of 4,128.
But Tuesday, the county recorded a total of 4,191 cases—63 above the top projection. Friday recorded the highest discrepancy, with the county recording 111 more cases than the top projection.
Jessica Turner, RCPHD communications specialist, said the numbers don't exactly match because the projections are just estimates.
"They're not meant to be completely accurate," she said. "They're just meant to be kind of a ballpark figure to help with planning and to give us an idea of where things are going."
Turner said, right now, things are headed in the wrong direction.
"We are seeing a drastic rise in activity in the last few weeks," she said. "If the trend continues, we will eventually see our health care systems be overwhelmed, and eventually they won't be able to handle the influx of patients."
More than a third of Rock County's total COVID-19 cases have been recorded in October.
In an attempt to reduce community transmission of the virus, the Reopen Rock Task Force launched several programs, including billboards that encourage people to take pictures with masks on.
Barry Brandt, the task force's co-chair, said it will take the entire community to reverse the case trend.
"We're all in this together," he said. "I think it's everybody's responsibility to take it seriously. It takes each and every one of us in the county and the state to really embrace those things and to help try to move us all forward."
Turner said the recent increase in cases suggests people might not be following virus precautions as carefully as they could be. She said masks are extremely effective at reducing virus spread, but it ultimately depends on individuals' choices.
"If people aren't complying with that mandate, then obviously it won't work," she said. "Though if we didn't have a mask mandate, we would probably be seeing a greater rise in cases."
Turner said RCPHD will be updating its predictions in the coming days.