7-Day Average Of New COVID-19 Cases Goes Up Slightly After A Week Of Decline

DHS Reports 3,831 New COVID-19 Cases, 22 New Deaths

Healthcare worker in a Covid-19 ward at UW Hospital
A healthcare worker in a PAPR hood walks through the hallway inside one of UW Hospital’s COVID-19 units Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. Angela Major/WPR

New reports of COVID-19 cases are holding steady at a fairly high level in Wisconsin, based on the latest data published by the state Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 3,831 new cases of the disease Sunday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 4,289 daily cases. That figure rose slightly on Saturday, after falling every day for about a week.

There were 22 new deaths from COVID-19 reported Sunday. On Sunday, 5,680 tested negative.

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Of the people who got tested for COVID-19 over the past week, 28.7 percent were positive for the disease, according to DHS. That rate has been rising slightly over the weekend.

The positivity rate is often read by public health officials as a measure of overall testing levels. A high rate could indicate that testing in the state is limited, and skewed toward those already flagged as potentially having COVID-19. A lower rate could indicate testing is more widespread. Changes in the test positivity rate can also speak to COVID-19’s spread, if the size and makeup of the testing pool stays consistent.

On Sept. 30, DHS also introduced an alternative positivity rate, one that measures the percentage of tests that are positive, instead of the percentage of people who get a positive result. The new metric takes into account people who have been tested multiple times. The seven-day average for that number is at 12.6 percent.

According to the Wisconsin Hospital Association, there were 1,814 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Sunday. A total of 16,999 people have been hospitalized because of the disease, or 4.4 percent of all positive cases.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 384,701, according to DHS. A total of 3,307 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19.

COVID-19 activity varies from county to county. The latest activity data from DHS, released Wednesday, showed 65 counties had a “critically high level” of COVID-19 activity, while seven were listed as having a “very high” level of activity. Green County, which was the only county not experiencing a “critically high” activity level last week, was this week joined by Iron, Florence, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette and Green Lake counties. Wisconsin overall had a “critically high” level of activity, according to DHS.

COVID-19 activity designations are based on the number of new cases per a county’s population over a 14-day period, as well as whether there’s an upward or downward trend in new cases.

As of Nov. 25, all of Wisconsin’s regions were seeing either a downward trend in cases, or were holding steady, though all remained at “critically high” levels of activity. Three counties — Brown, Crawford and Douglas — had an upward trend in cases, while the remaining counties were either trending down or holding steady.

Wisconsin’s daily testing capacity — based on the availability of test supplies and adequate staffing — has grown from 120 available lab tests in early March to 59,495 as of Sunday. The number of actual people with new test results reported Sunday was 9,511.

A total of 2,528,491 people have been tested over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 2,143,790 have tested negative.