MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin is seeing “mild to moderate increases” in COVID-19 case activity levels, in part because the faster-transmitting BA.2 Omicron subvariant is prevalent in the state, health officials said Tuesday.
While it took longer for the BA.2 subvariant to take hold in North America than was the case in Europe, “it’s here now” and is the predominant variant spreading nationwide, Dr. Ryan Westergaard, the state’s chief medical officer, said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
It’s hard to say when the increase in cases will peak, he said, but “unless the virus changes dramatically, an Omicron-like surge where we see hospitals being full and disruption on that scale seems unlikely.”
The state’s Department of Health Services reports Wisconsin’s seven-day average COVID-19 case count is 1,168 cases per day. That number is 9 to ten times lower than the Omicron spike in January but the highest level the state has seen since mid-February.
The virus continues to pose a risk to certain groups, including the elderly, vulnerable populations and the unvaccinated, but Westergaard said the focus of efforts has now shifted to trying to prevent severe disease and letting people know about therapeutics that can keep people out of hospitals. The push comes as the Biden administration takes steps to expand the availability of antiviral treatment Paxlovid.
Despite misconceptions and earlier shortages, newer COVID-19 treatments, including Paxlovid, are available at pharmacies in the state, Westergaard said.
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