DHS: 819 New COVID-19 Cases, 6 Deaths On Saturday

Weekly Average Of Positive Tests Remains Around 8 Percent

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coronavirus testing by a saliva test
Volunteers spit in a small vial as part of a trial of a new COVID-19 saliva test simple enough to be administered in makeshift lab space outside a UW-Madison campus building on Aug. 4, 2020. Jeff Miller/UW-Madison

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

DHS reported 819 new cases of the virus on Saturday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 684 daily cases. One week ago, the average was 708 daily cases.

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The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 74,800, according to the DHS. A total of 1,119 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19, with six new deaths reported on Saturday.

According to DHS, 9.4 percent of all test results reported on Saturday were positive for COVID-19, bringing the overall percentage of positive tests over the past seven days to 8.2. That figure has been holding since Aug. 19 when it was 8 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 26,591 as of Saturday. The number of actual people with test results reported on Saturday was 8,752.

Overall, DHS has recorded a total of 1,239,540 people’s test results over the course of the pandemic. 1,164,740 have tested negative.

COVID-19 activity varies heavily from county to county. The latest coronavirus activity data from DHS, released once per week each Wednesday, showed that 65 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 Iron, Sawyer, Oconto and Marinette. The counties with the most significant upward trends included Green Lake, Clark and Fond du Lac.

There have been confirmed cases in all 72 of Wisconsin’s counties. Based on the data from Wednesday, all counties reported cases over the two-week period.

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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. Wisconsin meets the former criteria, but not the latter.

According to DHS, 5,775 people have been hospitalized because of the virus as of Saturday. 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 25,166 people, or 34 percent.

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