COVID-19 Cases Continue Decline In Wisconsin As Nearly 200 Health Care Workers Vaccinated

DHS Reports 74 New Deaths Wednesday

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health care workers listening after people received the coronavirus vaccine
The medical staff listens to California Gov. Gavin Newsom during a news conference at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center in Los Angeles, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, after five healthcare workers received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Jae C. Hong/AP Photo

Wisconsin’s top health official says nearly 200 health care workers in the state had been vaccinated for COVID-19 as of Wednesday afternoon.

State Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm also says no spike in coronavirus cases were reported following the Thanksgiving holiday, but urged people to continue to remain vigilant with the Christmas and New Year’s holidays approaching.

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Wisconsin’s case numbers spiked in mid-November and have been declining since. And while the numbers are trending in the right direction, and the vaccine is slowly being given to health care workers, Palm stressed that people still need to wear masks, keep a distance, frequently wash hands and avoid gatherings.

New reports of COVID-19 cases are on the decline in Wisconsin, based on the latest data published by DHS.

DHS reported 2,402 new cases of the disease Wednesday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 3,247 daily cases. One week ago, the average was 3,853 daily cases.

There were 74 new deaths from COVID-19 reported Wednesday. On Wednesday, 6,849 tested negative.

Of the people who tested for COVID-19 over the past week, 27.5 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 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 10.7 percent.

According to the Wisconsin Hospital Association, there were 1,461 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Tuesday. A total of 19,656 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 444,798, according to DHS. A total of 4,196 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 17 counties had a “critically high” level of COVID-19 activity, while 55 were listed as having a “very high” level of activity. Waushara, the lone county at only a “high” level last week, is again at “very high.” The number of Wisconsin counties at a “critically high” level of COVID-19 activity has been on the decline. Wisconsin’s overall level is “very high” for the second week in a row.

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. That’s an improvement for two of Wisconsin’s regions — the western and southeast regions — which had “critically high” levels of activity last week.

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 59,735 as of Wednesday. The number of actual people with new test results reported Wednesday was 9,251.

A total of 2,711,439 people have been tested over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 2,266,641 have tested negative.

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