78 More COVID-19 Deaths Reported Friday In Wisconsin

DHS Reports 6,473 New COVID-19 Cases

vehicles can be seen side-by-side as test technicians do various tasks
Vehicles are stopped in several lanes as drivers get tested for COVID-19 on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison. Angela Major/WPR

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

DHS reported 6,473 new cases of the disease Friday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 6,254 daily cases. Daily new cases have been rising since early September, when the seven-day average was less than 700.

There were 78 new deaths from COVID-19 reported Friday. On Friday, 12,665 tested negative.

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Of the people who got tested for COVID-19 over the past week, 31.7 percent were positive for the disease, according to DHS. That rate has been falling slightly this week, although it’s still significantly higher than it was in early September, when the rate was below 10 percent.

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 14.8 percent

According to the Wisconsin Hospital Association, there were 2,104 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Thursday. A total of 15,526 people have been hospitalized because of the disease, or 4.5 percent of all positive cases.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 344,945, according to DHS. A total of 2,954 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 all but one of Wisconsin’s counties had a “critically high level” of COVID-19 activity, and Green County had a “very high” level of activity. 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 Wednesday, the northwestern region of the state had the most new cases per capita over the previous two weeks, while the western and northwestern regions saw cases rise most rapidly.

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 59,159 as of Nov. 17. The number of actual people with new test results reported Friday was 19,138.

A total of 2,407,136 people have been tested over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 2,062,191 have tested negative.