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Investigating the Trajectory of the COVID-19 Outbreak in Milwaukee County and Projected Effects of Relaxed Distancing. WMJ 2020 Jun;119(2):84-90



Pubmed ID


Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85088027487 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)


INTRODUCTION: The coronavirus pandemic has placed enormous stresses on health care systems across the United States and internationally. Predictive modeling has been an important tool for projecting utilization rates and surge planning. As the initial outbreak begins to slow, questions are being raised regarding long-term coronavirus mitigation plans. This paper examines the current status of the coronavirus outbreak in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, and simulates several scenarios where physical distancing measures are removed.

METHODS: The outbreak's doubling time, reproductive numbers at several points, and incidence curve were calculated to assess outbreak progression. Compartmental models were used to estimate the number of hospitalizations and critically ill patients in Milwaukee County if distancing policies were removed.

RESULTS: The compartmental models predict a substantial spike in cases and overwhelming medical resource utilization with an abrupt end to social distancing. Partial reduction in social distancing policies would likely result in a smaller spike, with less severe strain on available medical resources.

CONCLUSIONS: Milwaukee County remains very susceptible to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. Removing physical distancing policies poses significant risks with regard to resource management.

Author List

Bemanian A, Ahn KW, O'Brien M, Rausch DJ, Weston B, Beyer KMM


Kwang Woo Ahn PhD Professor in the Institute for Health and Equity department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Kirsten M. Beyer PhD, MPH Associate Professor in the Institute for Health and Equity department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Benjamin Weston MD, MPH Associate Professor in the Emergency Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Communicable Disease Control
Coronavirus Infections
Pneumonia, Viral
Public Policy