COVID-19 Test-Positivity Rate Continues To Rise In Wisconsin

2,446 New Cases Of Disease; 5 New Deaths Reported Sunday

Person walking and wearing a facemask
A person wears a face covering to help prevent the spread of coronavirus while walking, Monday evening, Nov. 16, 2020, in downtown Lewiston, Maine. Robert F. Bukaty/AP Photo

New reports of COVID-19 cases are averaging at around 2,000 cases per day in Wisconsin, based on the latest data published by the state Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 2,446 new cases of the disease Sunday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 2,244 daily cases. There were five new deaths from COVID-19.

The number of actual people with new test results reported Sunday was 4,588. On Sunday, 2,142 tested negative, meaning 53 percent of cases reported Sunday were positive for COVID-19.

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Of the people who got tested for COVID-19 over the past week, 31 percent were positive for the disease, according to DHS. That rate has been on the rise since it was 24 percent on Dec. 25.

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 10.8 percent.

On Dec. 29, DHS officials began sharing vaccine data information, which will be updated daily. 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, 265,575 doses of the vaccine has been allocated across Wisconsin as of Saturday. As of Dec. 29, 47,157 doses of the vaccines have been administered while 156,875 have been shipped. Of the two vaccines approved for use, 40,850 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered while 6,306 doses are the Moderna vaccine.

According to the Wisconsin Hospital Association, there were 1,018 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Saturday. A total of 21,529 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 486,531, according to DHS. A total of 4,875 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 three counties — Jackson, Menominee and Pepin — had a “critically high” level of COVID-19 activity, while 65 were listed as having a “very high” level of activity. Florence, Iron, Marquette and Waushara counties had a “high” level of activity. 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.”

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 but were listed as “shrinking” in activity, according to DHS.

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 59,185 as of Sunday.

A total of 2,849,706 people have been tested over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 226,175 have tested negative.