DHS: New COVID-19 Cases Hit Highest Number In More Than A Week

More Than 1,000 New Positive Cases Reported Statewide Saturday

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Judy Gallagher, left, wears a mask as she looks through music at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop Monday, June 29, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Mark Humphrey/AP Photo

New reports of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin hit their highest level in more than a week on Saturday, based on the latest data published by the state’s Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 1,062 new cases of the virus on Saturday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 876 daily cases.

That average has dipped since a week ago, when it was 912 daily cases. Thirteen new deaths were reported on Saturday. Fifteen deaths were reported on Friday — the highest daily number of deaths since June 9.

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The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 54,002, according to the DHS. A total of 947 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19.

According to DHS, 7.1 percent of all test results reported on Saturday 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 7.5 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 Saturday. The number of actual tests reported on Saturday was 14,858.

Overall, DHS has recorded a total of 949,947 over the course of the pandemic. 895,945 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 Wednesday, only one county reported no new cases over a 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. The state currently meets both of those criteria.

According to DHS, 4,681 people have been hospitalized because of the virus as of Saturday. That means at least 8.7 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 18,358 people, or 34 percent.

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