Positive COVID-19 cases in Eau Claire County increased this month but have leveled in recent weeks.

According to Lieske Giese, director of the Eau Claire City-County Health Department, the county has averaged 54 weekly cases so far in July, significantly higher than 26 cases per week in June.

Eau Claire County has had 96 positive tests in the past two weeks, a 21% decrease from the two weeks prior. Thirty-six percent of the cases have come from community spread in the past two weeks, meaning the person does not know where an infection occurred. Of those 96 cases, there have been 285 named close contacts in the past two weeks, an average of 3.9 per case. Of those 285 contacts, 89% were reached within 24 hours. That number would ideally be 100%, Giese said during a health briefing Wednesday afternoon.

Contact tracing is crucial so that people with the potential of spreading the disease quarantine themselves and limit their interactions.

“The more we can identify close contacts, the more those close contacts stay at home during that 14-day period where they were potentially exposed,” Giese said.

Eau Claire County has 448 total positive cases, an increase of seven since Tuesday. Of those cases, 407 have recovered, meaning there are 41 active cases. The county has had 13,222 negative tests. There have been 23 hospitalizations due to complications from coronavirus. The county has five active public health investigations, including two in long-term care facilities, one at a group home and one at a health care facility.

Giese is encouraged by many businesses requiring and individuals wearing face masks, a practice proven to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s a small thing to do to make a difference in the community,” Giese said.

Giese also said local health department directors are “pushing the state very hard” to consider a mask mandate for all Wisconsin residents.

“The best thing we could have happen is a state mandate for masks, if that’s seen as the best strategy, which is clearly the evidence that’s coming back nationally as well as internationally,” Giese said.

Chippewa County has 204 confirmed cases, 41 of which are active. That is four additional cases from Tuesday. The county has had zero hospitalizations and 7,500 negative test results.

Wisconsin has 51,048 positive cases, an increase of 870 from Tuesday. The state has 4,539 hospitalizations, an increase of 46 since Tuesday; that means 9% of total people who tested positive have been hospitalized. Five additional people have died since Tuesday, bringing the total number to 911 deaths.

The next COVID-19 briefing will occur Monday. The Health Department’s COVID-19 call center can be reached at 715-831-7425.