DHS: 64 Counties Have High Level Of Covid-19 Activity

Wisconsin Sees 545 New COVID-19 Cases, 12 Deaths On Wednesday

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A sign hangs on a glass door explaining COVID-19 safety to those who enter
A sign hangs on the door of a building on UW-Madison’s campus advising those who enter to follow safety precautions. Angela Major/WPR

New reports of COVID-19 cases are averaging at around 700 cases per day in Wisconsin, based on the latest data published by the state’s Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 545 new cases of the virus on Wednesday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 696 daily cases. One week ago, the average was 681 daily cases.

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The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 77,129, according to the DHS. A total of 1,142 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19, with 12 new deaths reported on Wednesday.

COVID-19 activity varies heavily from county to county. The latest coronavirus activity data from DHS, released once per week each Wednesday, showed that 64 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 case rates per capita included Juneau, Iron, Brown and Racine. The counties with the most significant upward trends included Kewaunee, Forest, Adams and Shawano.

There have been confirmed cases in all 72 of Wisconsin’s counties and all counties reported new cases of COVID-19 in the last two weeks.

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According to DHS, 6.5 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 8.4. The previous seven-day period’s test-positive rate was 8.1 percent.

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 26,621 as of Wednesday. The number of actual people with test results reported on Wednesday was 8,376.

Overall, DHS has recorded a total of 1,268,677 people’s test results over the course of the pandemic. 1,191,548 have tested negative.

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 continued to see a downward trend in COVID-like cases but not in influenza-like cases.

According to DHS, 5,916 people have been hospitalized because of the virus as of Wednesday. That means at least 8 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 25,879 people, or 34 percent.

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