Milwaukee County reported Tuesday its highest number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in a month, while the percentage of positive cases continues to trend upward.Dr. Ben Weston, director of medical services for the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management, said the county has moved backward on two metrics used to determine a safe reopening. Those metrics include the trend in percent positive COVID-19 tests – which went from a “yellow light” on the dashboard to a red light – and the percentage of COVID-19 hospital bed utilization, which went from green to yellow. “By these metrics, all green marks would be excellent,” Weston said. “I think it’s pretty clear we are not, as a community, in the excellent category. We’re making headway in this battle against the pandemic, but there's more work to be done.”As of Wednesday morning, there were 205 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Milwaukee County, the highest number since April 15, when there were 226 hospitalized patients. There was a 27% positive test rate among all COVID-19 tests as of Monday in Milwaukee County.Dr. Jeanette Kowalik, health commissioner for the Milwaukee Health Department, said she expects to see the overall number of cases and hospitalizations increase as people relax social distancing practices.“The virus doesn’t care if you believe in it or not,” Kowalik said. “... COVID-19 will still impact communities across this country. We will continue to see rises in cases as people go back to congregating and not wearing masks and not taking additional precautions as far as prevention is concerned.”The rate of COVID-related fatalities has held steady in recent days, however, Kowalik noted. Weston said the community is at a “critical and fragile” point, as city leaders plan to evaluate Thursday whether it will move into the next phase of reopening businesses.The city of Milwaukee continues to enforce its stay-at-home order, which is patterned after the state's Badger Bounce Back plan and has no expiration date. Last week, the city allowed some additional businesses to reopen, with restrictions, such as salons and gyms – which is considered “phase two” of the city’s reopening plan. Barrett has said moving into phase three is dependent on testing and tracing capacity, along with hospital capacity and usage. Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes noted on a call with reporters Tuesday that the coronavirus continues to particularly affect people of color. “Many people, especially in our black and brown community, who have been working this entire time these people are at increased risk of infection every day,” Barnes said. “And so we need everyone, no matter who you are, or what you do, to continue the physical distancing, washing your hands.”Last week, Milwaukee County’s suburban municipalities moved to the next phase of reopening Friday, allowing all remaining businesses to open. Get more news and insight in the May 25 issue of BizTimes Milwaukee. Subscribe to get updates in your inbox here.