The White House task force called on the state to increase social distancing “to the maximal degree possible,” less than a week before President Donald Trump’s scheduled campaign rallies in hot-spot metro areas La Crosse and Green Bay.
“Over the course of the past two to three weeks we have noticed a marked rise in Covid patients coming into our hospitals in Green Bay,” said Dr. Paul Casey, medical director of the emergency department at Bellin Hospital. “And this comes in the wake of what we thought we thought we were doing well.”
Casey evoked the images of overflowing emergency rooms seen in cities like New York and Detroit earlier in the pandemic.
“For the first time in 17 years that I’ve been here, we’ve had to put patients in hallway beds,” Casey told CNN’s Erin Burnett.
“I never envisioned having to do that in a small community like Green Bay, but we’ve done it not twice, but three times in the last 10 days.”
Wisconsin had the third-highest rate of new cases per capita last week and had a test-positivity rate of between 8% and 10%, the seventh highest in the country, the task force said in a report dated Sunday and obtained by CNN.
“To the maximal degree possible, increase social distancing mitigation measures until cases decline,” the letter reads.
Evers said Tuesday that Covid-19 cases in the state were “picking up speed.”
The state’s seven-day average of new daily cases hit its record for the pandemic Tuesday at 2,225, according to Johns Hopkins University. That is up from 630 six weeks ago.
“No party, no bar, no gathering is worth it,” Evers said.
The Midwest averaged 156 cases per 1 million people, against 124 in the South, 88 in the West and 51 in the Northeast, Johns Hopkins data shows.
26 states report higher 7-day averages of new cases
This comes as at least 26 states — mostly in the country’s northern half — were reporting higher seven-day averages of new daily cases Wednesday than a week ago.
Wyoming, which last week set a single-day record for new Covid-19 cases, loosened rules around restaurants after the governor said data showed dine-in restaurants have “not significantly contributed” to spread of the virus in the state.
For the country as a whole, although cases rates are down from a summer surge, they recently have inched up.
New daily cases over a week averaged about 42,000 as of Tuesday. That’s down from a peak average of 67,317 on July 22 — but it also is up about 22% since September 12, when it was at a two-month low of 34,307.
New York City battling test-positivity spikes as more schools set to reopen
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that officials are especially watching nine ZIP codes with test-positivity rates between 3% and 6% — well above the entire city’s seven-day rolling average of 1.46%.
The city health department has said it was deploying 11 mobile testing units to areas with high test-positivity rates.
Restaurants in areas with spiking rates will get special attention, de Blasio said.
“There is going to be a very rigorous inspection effort in those ZIP codes, and we are going to be looking carefully to make sure every restaurant is following the rules,” de Blasio said Wednesday.
Possible Moderna vaccine timeline
Moderna, which has developed a vaccine together with the National Institutes of Health, could have a vaccine widely available by late March or early April, if trials prove its vaccine candidate to be safe and effective, Modern CEO Stéphane Bancel said Wednesday.
“I think a late Q1, early Q2 approval is a reasonable timeline, based on what we know from our vaccine,” Bancel said at a conference hosted by the Financial Times.
The company could apply for emergency use of the vaccine by late November, but not sooner, given that the company must have two months of safety data after trial participants receive a second dose, Bancel said.
The CEO said he believes the vaccine will be mainly available to high-risk populations, like health care workers and the elderly, under emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration.
The company is working to ramp up production in the meantime.
“We are trying to really get ahead of the game, so that if the safety is good, efficacy is good, manufacturing will not delay the availability of a vaccine on an emergency use basis first,” said Bancel.
CNN’s Amanda Watts, Betsy Klein, Gregory Lemos, Kristina Sgueglia, Andy Rose, Rebekah Riess. Shawn Nottingham and Lauren Mascarenhas contributed to this report.