Amid News Of More Contagious COVID-19 Strain Detected In Wisconsin, New Cases Continue Small Decline

2 More Counties Have 'Critically High' COVID-19 Activity

Pharmacist Brian Kiefer draws saline while preparing a dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at UC Davis Health on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Sacramento, Calif. Noah Berger/AP Photo

New reports of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin have been declining over the past few days, averaging at about 2,600 cases per day, based on the latest data published by the state Department of Health Services (DHS).

DHS reported 2,134 new cases of the disease Wednesday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 2,646 daily cases. One week ago, the average was 2,493 daily cases.

There were 37 new deaths from COVID-19 reported Wednesday. On Wednesday, 5,293 tested negative.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

On Wednesday, Wisconsin health officials announced a new variant of the novel coronavirus that is believed to be more contagious has been detected in Eau Claire County. The infected person traveled internationally, according to DHS.

Of the people who got tested for COVID-19 over the past week, 28.1 percent were positive for the disease, according to DHS. That rate has been on the decline.

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.

DHS also tracks the percentage of tests that are positive, instead of the percentage of people who get a positive result. The metric takes into account people who have been tested multiple times. The seven-day average for that number is 9.4 percent.

On Dec. 29, DHS officials began sharing vaccine data information, which will be updated every Tuesday. According to a DHS news release, the vaccine data includes “summary metrics for allocation, shipment and total vaccine administered, as well as a graph displaying the number of vaccinations administered per day.”

According to the DHS, 607,650 doses of the vaccine has been allocated across Wisconsin as of Tuesday, an increase of 187,450 from the last update. Currently, 163,371 doses of the vaccines have been administered while 373,100 have been shipped. Of the two vaccines approved for use, 104,806 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered while 58,564 doses are the Moderna vaccine.

A graph showing the daily number of vaccinations across the state saw a steady increase in doses administered over the first full week of 2021. Preliminary data shows a decrease in the number of vaccinations since Jan. 8.

According to the Wisconsin Hospital Association, there were 1,025 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Wednesday. A total of 22,705 people have been hospitalized because of the disease, or 4.4 percent of all positive cases.

COVID-19 activity varies from county to county. The latest activity data from DHS, released Wednesday, showed Menominee, Juneau and Buffalo counties with a “critically high” level of COVID-19 activity, while 63 counties were listed as having a “very high” level of activity. Six counties had a “high” level of activity. The number of Wisconsin counties at a “critically high” level of COVID-19 activity has been increasing. Wisconsin’s overall level is “very high.”

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, all seven of Wisconsin’s regions had “very high” levels of activity. The Fox Valley was listed as “growing” in activity, while the Western region saw decreasing COVID-19 activity. The remainder saw no significant change in disease activity, according to DHS.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 513,270, according to DHS. A total of 5,248 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19.

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 59,275 as of Wednesday. The number of actual people with new test results reported Wednesday was 7,427.

A total of 2,928,143 people have been tested over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 2,414,873 have tested negative.