DHS: 478 New COVID-19 Cases

7-Day Average Falls Below 800 For The First Time Since Mid-July

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Face masks hanging on hooks on a door
Face coverings hang on hooks along with keys by the front door of the Adamus family on Monday, Aug. 3, 2020, in Dallas, Ga. Brynn Anderson/AP Photo

New reports of COVID-19 cases are on the decline in Wisconsin, based on the latest data published by the state’s Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 478 new cases of the virus on Wednesday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 760 daily cases.

One week ago, the average was 842 daily cases. Wednesday marks the first day since July 15 that the 7-day average has fallen below 800 daily cases.

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The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 62,263, according to the DHS. A total of 1,011 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19, with 5 new deaths reported on Wednesday.

COVID-19 activity varies heavily from county to county. The DHS released its latest county activity data on Wednesday, showing that 66 counties had a “high level” of coronavirus activity. Activity level designations are based on “burden,” or 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.

On Wednesday, counties with the highest new case rates per 100,000 residents in the last two weeks included Marinette, Barron, Sawyer and Lafayette. The counties with the most significant upward trends included Oneida, Lafayette and Green.

According to DHS, 4.8 percent of all test results reported on Wednesday were positive for COVID-19, bringing the overall percentage of positive tests over the past seven days to 6.3 percent. That figure has been holding between 5.5 percent and 6.5 percent for the past two weeks.

The percentage of positive cases 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 the virus. A lower rate could indicate testing is more widespread.

Changes in the test positivity rate can also speak to a virus’ spread, if the size and makeup of the testing pool stays consistent.

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 24,178 as of Wednesday. The number of actual people with test results reported on Wednesday was 9,924.

Overall, DHS has recorded a total of 1,085,986 people’s test results over the course of the pandemic. 1,023,732 have tested negative. There have been confirmed cases in all 72 of Wisconsin’s counties.

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DHS still has a dashboard showing Wisconsin’s progress on gating criteria under the now-defunct Badger Bounce Back Plan. Those gating criteria would have been used to determine when it would be safe to begin reopening the state, prior to the state Supreme Court ruling that ended a statewide stay-at-home order. The state has never met all six of the criteria at once.

Two of the criteria are a statistically significant 14-day downward trend in COVID-like cases reported in emergency departments, and a similar downward trend for influenza-like cases in emergency departments. On Wednesday the state met the criteria for COVID-like cases but not for influenza-like cases.

According to DHS, 5,125 people have been hospitalized because of the virus as of Wednesday. That means at least 8.2 percent of people who have tested positive for the new coronavirus in the state have been hospitalized. DHS officials said they don’t know the hospitalization history of 20,849 people, or 33 percent.

Editor’s note: Previous WPR reporting on the DHS’s daily COVID-19 updates featured the average daily rate of positive testing from the past seven days. Present and future reporting will no longer include that metric, but will instead highlight the overall percentage of positive tests from the past seven days.

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