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On the other side of Omicron

Wisconsin is now a couple weeks past the peak of the Omicron wave. Compared to last winter, the Omicron peak had about double the daily rate of cases; not quite the same rate of hospitalizations; but less than half the rate of deaths.

Omigosh Omicron

Omicron is here in Wisconsin. It will cause a large spike in cases; outcomes will be less severe than previous waves. I am not going to try to predict how large or how much less.

Covid Winter 2: The last wave

Wisconsin has been on a Covid plateau for a while. Still, I have been waiting for signs of a true winter wave, and I think the data from the last week show that it is starting. If it is, I expect moderately fewer cases than last winter, far fewer deaths, and that this will finally be the last major wave.

September breakthrough data

DHS has released their latest update on breakthrough cases with data for the month of September. The risk reduction from the vaccines appears to be pretty much the same as last month.

Vaccines (yes, still) work

The Wisconsin DHS has begun releasing data on the rates of deaths, hospitalizations, and cases by vaccine status. This gives us the most direct look yet at how the vaccines are working in the real world, and against Delta. They say that in August, an unvaccinated person has been 11 times as likely to die, 9 times as likely to be hospitalized, and 4 times as likely to get a case as a vaccinated person. But where do these numbers come from?

The Delta delta

The new Delta variant has taken over and caused a renewed surge in infections in Wisconsin. I think this surge will continue for a while, but thankfully the vaccines will limit the consequences.

Who's immune?

Wisconsin is about half vaccinated, but when you take into account previous infections, the fraction of people with some immunity is more like two-thirds.

Mmm, RNA

I like the mRNA vaccines and do not think they are risky, even though they use new vaccine technology. Here’s what I know about them.

Covid WI status update: May 2

The Wisconsin Covid data are sending some mixed signals this week. Infections are probably flat or slightly down, hospitalizations still up from the recent small wave, and deaths flat. Cases in high schoolers may be up slightly, which is something to watch going forward.

Covid WI status update: Apr 25

The spring wave has crested for Wisconsin as whole, though not yet in Milwaukee. Vaccination progress has reached 50% of adults but has slowed down.

Vaccines still work

In Wisconsin people over 65 were vaccinated before other age groups, and they now clearly have much lower Covid rates than other age groups.

Variant rates in Midwest states

Wisconsin is in the beginnings of a surge in Covid cases. Many of the states in Wisconsin’s neighborhood have it worse, especially Michigan but also Minnesota and Illinois. I think the trends in these states can mostly be attributed to the prevalence of the B.1.1.7 variant.

Covid WI status update: Mar 28

Unfortunately, infections have started trending upwards again, I believe because of a combination of the B.1.1.7 variant and gradually relaxing precautions. But I am still optimistic that vaccinations will keep this last wave small.

The vaccines are working

The high vaccination rate of those over 65 is now causing cases to decline faster in that age group. The vaccines are working.

Covid WI status update: Feb 28

Vaccination is progressing well. Case numbers stopped decreasing this week, but I don’t think it’s cause for alarm at this point. Finally, while reported death numbers continue to be erratic, when you look at actual dates of death they follow the case trajectory pretty closely.


This week three additional cases of the B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant were detected in Wisconsin. What is this variant, and what does it mean for Wisconsin?

Covid WI status update: Feb 7

Indicators are pretty good! Vaccine administration has started picking up, reaching a substantial fraction of people over 65. I am concerned about uneven distribution between regions of the state, though. Cases and positivity rate continue steadily decreasing, making me optimistic despite the Covid variants abroad.


Prisons are not a good place to be in a pandemic. More than 10,000 - over half - of Wisconsin’s prisoners have caught coronavirus, in addition to over 2000 staff. Obviously being confined in close quarters is not a good starting point, but I think the data suggests that Wisconsin prisons could have done a lot better.

Christmas II

Now that data has fully filled in for the weeks following Christmas, it confirms that the Christmas case bump was indeed temporary, and Wisconsin has returned to a gradual downslope of infections. I expect this trend to continue, although it is possible the new virus strain will arrive to interrupt it.

Christmas I

Early returns show that Christmas did indeed lead to an increase in spread. I predict and hope that this spurt of cases will be temporary, as it was for Thanksgiving, but we will need to wait one or two more weeks to know if that happens.

Covid WI status update: Dec 30

Cases continue declining in Wisconsin. Deaths numbers plateaued for a while and are a bit erratic, but I expect them to decline overall in the future. As happened with Thanksgiving, I predict a relatively small, temporary spurt of new cases from the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

Was there a Thanksgiving surge?

Thanksgiving celebrations did not reverse the virus’s downward trend in Wisconsin, but I think the data shows it did lead to a small increase in infections.


Covid outcomes are very strongly affected by age. What does that age dependence look like in Wisconsin, and how does our mortality rate compare to scientific estimates?

Covid WI status update: Dec 7

Wisconsin’s case load is now declining, and I think deaths have also now peaked. The Thanksgiving weekend is making the data difficult to interpret, but I do not think there is any sign yet of a Thanksgiving surge.

Covid in Milwaukee

Milwaukee County contains one million people, one-sixth of Wisconsin’s total. Within this one county, there are enough people and enough diversity to give Milwaukee’s corner of the pandemic its own geography and its own narrative.

Covid WI status update: Nov 22

Hints of a peak

If I write it out loud will I jinx it? There are signs that the case numbers may be peaking. In the past week, the 7-day average for the state has flattened out.

Wisconsin mobility data

Last Tuesday Governor Evers issued an executive order exhorting, but not requiring, Wisconsin residents to stay home as much as possible. Is there any way to know what effect these kind of orders have? How much are Wisconsin residents staying home, and how does it compare to the lockdown in the spring?

Covid WI status update: Nov 8

All together now

All the regions of Wisconsin are now in a pretty similar place for new cases per day as a share of population. The Northeast and Fox Valley regions have actually plateaued for several weeks, and all other regions except Madison have risen to meet them at about the same level. If current trends continue, these other regions of the state will soon exceed the hard-hit Northeast and Fox Valley in new cases per day.

Covid and other causes of death

Covid has killed about 220,000 people in the United States. If you measure by “excess deaths,” meaning deaths that have occurred this year in excess of what would have been statistically expected, and which are most likely under-counted Covid deaths, it is over 300,000.

Covid WI status update: Oct 25

Everything is going up

Two weeks ago I sounded a couple optimistic notes - new cases had been hinting at flattening, and Milwaukee’s wave had not yet gotten as bad as the late summer one - that have now been proven wrong. Wisconsin cases numbers paused, as if on a staircase landing, but then sprinted up the next flight. And Milwaukee’s metrics are now the worst they have been overall since the pandemic first hit in March.

How many have really been infected?

The DHS did not put out any data updates this weekend, because of computer system maintenance. (Seems like a bad time?) I decided to use this time of mystery and uncertainty to address another unknown number, the true number of infections in the state.

Covid WI status update: Oct 11

What is happening right now with Covid in the state? It can be hard to piece together an overall picture from hearing the daily headline numbers, or reading news stories with different national or local framings. So in this post I will try to give a status update for the state, as I see it.

What to expect for deaths

After two weeks of steeply rising hospitalization numbers in Wisconsin, the past several days have now seen deaths begin to rise. This should not be a surprise, unfortunately. While the number of cases does not always correspond to future deaths, the number of hospitalizations has been a fairly reliable predictor.

Two outbreaks

Wisconsin has two outbreaks. The first is on college campuses. Cases exploded after classes began, especially at UW-Madison and UW-La Crosse, but at many other campuses as well. Dorms are quarantined, students are rushing to buy ramen before lockdown, and I get to tut-tut to myself about the party kids in Sellery and Witte.

Tests and positivity rates

The Covid positivity rate in Wisconsin is now higher than it’s ever been. We are averaging 1800 cases a day, but with tests per day stuck at 10,000 or so. We know cases are high largely because of college campus outbreaks, but why is our testing so low?

Wisconsin counties and colleges

UW-Madison and UW-La Crosse have both recently moved classes fully online to respond to their Covid outbreaks. A recent Journal Sentinel story on La Crosse also noted that