DHS: 826 New COVID-19 Cases, 1 New Death

7-Day Average Of New Daily Cases Dips Below 700

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a person in a face mask reaches for food in a tray
A worker at Charlie’s Great Food wears a mask while filling to-go orders for drive thru attendees Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020, at the Wisconsin State Fair park in West Allis. Angela Major/WPR

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 826 new cases of the virus on Friday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 690 daily cases. Friday marks the first time the seven-day average of daily cases has dipped below 700 since July 13. One week ago, the average was 780 daily cases.

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The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 69,059, according to the DHS. A total of 1,068 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19, with one new death reported on Friday.

According to DHS, 7.8 percent of all test results reported on Friday were positive for COVID-19, bringing the overall percentage of positive tests over the past seven days to 7.6 percent. That figure dipped slightly from 8 percent Thursday.

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 26,162 as of Friday. The number of actual people with test results reported on Friday was 10,570.

Overall, DHS has recorded a total of 1,172,097 people’s test results over the course of the pandemic. 1,103,038 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 67 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, Marinette and Sawyer. The counties with the most significant upward trends included Iron, Manitowoc and Walworth.

There have been confirmed cases in all 72 of Wisconsin’s counties. Based on the data from Wednesday, all counties reported new 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. On Friday, the state met the criteria for COVID-like illnesses but not for influenza-like illnesses.

According to DHS, 5,505 people have been hospitalized because of the virus as of Friday. 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 23,177 people, or 34 percent.

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