RACINE, Wis.— The City of Racine is racing against its “very high levels” of COVID-19, but contact tracers are struggling to keep pace with the spread.

Racine’s most recent numbers have surpassed the numbers of positive cases they initially saw at the onset of the pandemic. It is because of this “rapid increase” that contact tracing and case investigation is “strained and difficult.”

The health department said in a statement that they “cannot consistently notify positive cases and their close contacts in a timely manner which severely limits efforts to contain the virus and limit community spread.”

Starting Friday, Nov. 6, notification of positive cases will prioritized in tiers. Those ages 65 and older will be given first priority when making notifications. The next priority group will be children 18 years and younger.

Next, individuals who live in “congregate living environments” will be notified of positive tests. If there is additional ability to contact others, they will take last priority.

“I have stated on several occasions the continued increase in the number of positives throughout the community would eventually compromise this Departments ability to effectively notify and interact. I once again remind/request individuals to protect themselves and those individuals they are involved,” Dottie-Kay Bowersox, a public health administrator said. “It is a personal choice to ignore the guidelines and spread this virus throughout the community compromising the health of others and contributing to the economic devastation of this pandemic. Personal responsibility is the only way to slow the spread of this virus which is causing havoc with our finite systems.”

Over the last seven days, the city’s public health department says they have reported 480 new, positive coronavirus cases, at a 37% positivity rate. The health department says the community spread is significant.

For comparison, coronavirus caseloads are increasing throughout the Badger State, with Wisconsin picking up nearly 6,000 new daily cases on both Thursday and Wednesday this week. The rolling statewide seven-day positivity rate by person increased to 32%.

“This is a significant disappointment, in that individuals are not taking the spread of this virus seriously and following established guidelines from the WHO/CDC/DHS/ and this Department,” Bowersox said.