Eight Wisconsin cities that are home to University of Wisconsin System schools made the New York Times’ list of metro areas with the fastest growing COVID-19 cases this week.
The NYT’s list — which orders cities based on the difference in the number of cases from this past week compared with the week prior — predicts the cities that are most likely to experience a COVID-19 outbreak soon.
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Of the eight Wisconsin cities included, La Crosse holds the number one spot. Whitewater closely follows in third place, with the remaining Wisconsin cities falling from eighth to nineteenth place, according to the NYT list.
La Crosse saw an increase from 142 cases a week ago to 737, and is averaging 48.4 new cases daily, according to the NYT. The city’s major institution, UW-La Crosse, has since switched to entirely remote instruction and has quarantined all campus dorms for two weeks.
Whitewater experienced a jump in cases from 166 last week to 403 this week. UW-Whitewater alone reported 80 new COVID-19 cases this week and 139 the week prior, according to the University’s COVID-19 dashboard.
Other cities on the list include Oshkosh-Neenah, Stevens Point, Appleton, Platteville, Madison and Green Bay. All contain a UW affiliate school, and many of the cities’ case spikes have been tied to students returning to campus — particularly at UW-Madison, where Public Health Madison and Dane County estimated 85% of new cases are from people tied to the campus.
Rising COVID-19 cases in these cities reflect the recent statewide spike in Wisconsin, where there has been a 96% case increase in the past 14 days. 1,499 new cases in the state were reported Sept. 16, according to The New York Times.
The Whitewater Banner, a local newspaper in Whitewater, decided not to publish the recent NYT case statistics, citing an “inconsistency in the number of positive test results vs. total tests administered in last week’s reporting on the website” in an article. The NYT list said the numbers provided can offer helpful insight to handling the pandemic.
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“Confirmed coronavirus cases, however incomplete, are the most useful daily statistics currently available at a local level everywhere in the country,” the NYT article said.
The U.S. has the most cases in the world, with 6.6 million cases and 197,315 deaths.