Madison, Dane Co. see rising COVID cases not connected to UW-Madison

MADISON — COVID-19 cases are spiking in Madison and Dane County beyond the University of Wisconsin campus figures themselves.

Public Health Madison & Dane County Director Janel Heinrich called a 67% increase in cases not connected to the UW “statistically significant” during the mayor’s weekly news briefing Thursday morning.  The increase in such cases was over the last several weeks.

Heinrich said PHMDC, however, does not have any indications that confirmed cases from campus are directly leading to ones in the greater community.

“We think of that as ‘spillover.'” Heinrich explained.  “We monitor three things: we monitor case count trends on a weekly basis, we monitor a heat map of the age groups where we’re seeing more illness, and we look deeply at the case notes. At this point we are not seeing evidence of what we’re calling spillover.”

Heinrich said the rising cases locally — Dane County added 117 on Wednesday — haven’t led to overcrowding in hospitals at this time, noting the capacity is “fairly stable.”  Still, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway reminded her city to “mask up,” especially in light of Gov. Tony Evers extending a statewide mask mandate through Nov. 21.

The order requires almost all people over the age of 5 to wear a mask in public buildings and outdoor spaces where social distancing isn’t possible.  Heinrich said PHMDC is hoping to reach people through education instead of compliance on those rules.

“We have spent and we will continue to educate individuals if there is a perception or an actuality that there is a lack of understanding of the appropriate things to do,” Heinrich said.  “But we are seeing that there are things we have set forth with education and we are still seeing perhaps lack of compliance.”