Has Wisconsin reached its Omicron peak? Local health officials say maybe

MADISON, Wis.– There’s good news in the fight against COVID: Half as many people are testing positive today compared to last week.

Does this mean Dane County is done setting records?

SSM Health Dr. David Ottenbaker says the Madison area may have reached its Omicron peak, but it’s still too early to tell.

“Remember, there’s always a delay and our hospitals are still full. There are a lot of sick people with COVID in them,” Ottenbaker told News 3 Now Tuesday. “But we can be hopeful that at least it’s trending in the right direction.”

The seven-day average for new confirmed COVID cases fell below 10,000 Tuesday, down from a record-high, nearly 19,000 cases set last Wednesday.

RELATED: Despite COVID-19 cases falling, Wisconsin records third-highest single-day death total

Ottenbaker calls the next week critical and is now focused on two big questions:

  1. How will the virus mutate in the future?
  2. What can we do to stop another record-setting surge before it starts?

With Dane County’s current mask order set to expire February 1, Public Health Madison & Dane County is planning to announce an update later this week.

“There will be new information coming,” PHMDC Communications Coordinator Morgan Finke wrote in an email to News 3 Now. “I wouldn’t be able to share anything about the mask mandate outside of letting you know (that).”

Click here for the latest Dane County COVID data

Ottenbaker suggests the current order should be extended.

“I think that, until we’re really certain as to where omicron is going, it makes sense to continue the path we’re on today,” he said, adding, “We know masks work.”

RELATED: The government is shipping ‘free masks’ this week. Here’s where you can find them locally.