DHS: 7-Day Average Of Daily COVID-19 Cases Is Second-Highest Since Pandemic Began

7-Day Average Test Positivity Rate Continues To Climb In Wisconsin

A man uses a phone to enter information for COVID-19 testing
A member of the Wisconsin National Guard gets information from someone waiting to receive a COVID-19 test Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, at Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville. Angela Major/WPR

New reports of COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Wisconsin, based on the latest data published by the state Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 4,389 new cases of the disease Monday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 6,426 daily cases, the second highest recorded since the start of the pandemic. The highest seven day average of new daily cases was 6,442, and was recorded just three days ago Friday.

It’s typical for DHS to report lower numbers of COVID-19 cases on Mondays.

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There were 12 new deaths from COVID-19 reported Monday. On Monday, 7,909 tested negative.

According to DHS, 36.4 percent of people who got tested for COVID-19 over the past week were positive for the disease. That rate has been holding steady over the last few days, but has climbed rapidly since early September.

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 17.9 percent.

According to the Wisconsin Hospital Association, there were 178 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Monday. A total of 14,499 people have been hospitalized because of the disease, or 4.6 percent of all positive cases.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 316,758, according to DHS. A total of 2,649 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19.

COVID-19 activity varies from county to county. Last week, DHS revised its categories for severity to include a “critically high level,” which the agency said is three times higher than “very high,” the former top level. DHS showed 65 counties had a “critically high level” of COVID-19 activity, and the rest had a ” very high” level of activity. Wisconsin overall had a “critically high” level of activity.

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, the north-central region of the state had the most new cases per capita over the previous two weeks, while the northwest region saw cases rise most rapidly.

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 59,234 as of Monday. The number of actual people with new test results reported Monday was 12,298.

A total of 2,325,906 people have been tested over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 2,009,148 have tested negative.