DHS: COVID-19 Positive Cases Down From Last Week, Still Average More Than 800 Positives A Day

Gov. Tony Evers' Mask Mandate Took Effect Saturday

two vehicles in the testing drive thru are approached by people in medical gear
Information is gathered from people receiving COVID-19 tests Tuesday, July 28, 2020, at Lake Geneva Middle School in Lake Geneva, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

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 404 new cases of the virus on Monday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 844 daily cases.

It’s typical for the DHS to report lower numbers of COVID-19 cases on Mondays. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 13 weeks in which Mondays are the weekday with the lowest case totals.

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One week ago, the average was 914 daily cases.

The count of new cases has dipped since Saturday, when DHS reported 1,062 new cases. The dip comes as Barron County has seen a leap in cases, with 160 reported from July 26th through Monday.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 55,328, according to the DHS. A total of 949 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19, with one new death reported on Monday.

According to DHS, 5.6 percent of all test results reported on Monday were positive for COVID-19, bringing the average percentage of positive tests over the past seven days to 6.8 percent. The seven-day average a week ago was 4.4 percent.

The percentage of positive tests 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 24,156 as of Monday. The number of actual tests reported on Monday was 7,173.

Overall, DHS has recorded a total of 966,763 tests over the course of the pandemic, 911,435 of which have come back 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 61 counties had a “high level” of coronavirus activity. Nine counties were classified as having medium levels of activity: Ashland, Crawford, Green, Green Lake, Iowa, Jackson, Vilas, Vernon and Richland. Only two, Florence and Rusk counties, had low levels of activity. Every region in the state was considered to have high 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.

There have been confirmed cases in all 72 counties, and based on the data from July 29, only one county reported no new cases over a two-week period.


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 currently meets both criteria.

According to DHS, 4,732 people have been hospitalized because of the virus as of Monday. That means at least 9 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 19,010 people, or 34 percent.