COVID-19 Cases Among Kids ‘High’ In Wisconsin As School Resumes

Pediatric Infections Twice What They Were A Month Ago, According To Children's Hospital In Milwaukee

A sign says "COVID CLINIC" with an arrow to the right. Signs for high school athletics hang above it.
A sign directs high schoolers and community members to the COVID-19 vaccination clinic set up in the school’s theater Tuesday, May 4, 2021, at St. Francis High School in St. Francis, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

Cases of COVID-19 in Wisconsin currently show no signs of leveling off like they are in other states. On Wednesday, the state Department of Health Services reported the seven-day average of new infections was 2,857 — twice was it was two weeks ago.

Many of those new infections are among the unvaccinated, some of whom are children too young to receive shots. The level of middle and high school-age kids who’ve received vaccines remains below 50 percent.

“COVID-19 activity in Wisconsin kids continues to be high, with twice the number of kids testing positive for the virus than one month ago,” said Dr. Michael Gutzeit of Children’s Wisconsin in Milwaukee in a statement posted on social media.

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He said most of the children who test positive don’t have symptoms, but he and others are encouraging schools and families to adopt mask-wearing indoors to decrease spread of the virus.

Last week, the Fort Atkinson School District voted to require masks after a middle schooler died. Autopsy results are pending. The mother of the 13-year-old said her son was infected with COVID-19.

A few cities like Madison and Racine have reimposed mask mandates. But many have not and adoption of masks has been uneven in school districts across the state.

“When kids get sick from COVID-19 they can spread it to others like family members, friends and relatives who may not be vaccinated,” said Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Karen Timberlake during a media briefing Wednesday.

Fifty-three percent of Wisconsin residents are fully vaccinated. While state officials encourage those who aren’t to get a shot, they are preparing to give third shots those who soon may become eligible. An advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to announce this week whether those over age 65 and other high-risk groups should be eligible for COVID-19 booster shots.