DHS: Percentage Of Positive COVID-19 Tests At 17.6, Tying With All-Time High From Early October

New COVID-19 Cases In Wisconsin Remain Elevated After Slight Dip Last Week

seven students run closely together on a sidewalk while wearing masks
People wear face masks as they run Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, at UW-Stevens Point. Angela Major/WPR

New reports of COVID-19 cases are on the rise after a slight dip last week in Wisconsin, based on the latest data published by the state Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 2,742 new cases of the disease Saturday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 2,395 daily cases. One week ago, the average was 2,450 daily cases. A week before that the average was 2,012 daily cases.

There were 18 new deaths from COVID-19 reported Saturday. On Saturday, 11,644 tested negative.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

17.6 percent of people who got tested for COVID-19 over the past week were positive for the disease, according to DHS, putting Sunday’s numbers in line with an all-time high recorded Oct. 2. That rate has been on the rise since dipping to 16.9 percent last week, but has been climbing steadily since late August when it hovered around 8 percent.

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 9.3 percent.

According to DHS, there were 876 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Friday. A total of 8,319 people have been hospitalized because of the disease, or 5.6 percent of all positive cases.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 147,560, according to DHS. A total of 1,458 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19.

COVID-19 activity varies heavily from county to county. The latest activity data from DHS, released Wednesday, showed 55 counties had a “very high level” of COVID-19 activity, and the rest had a “high” level of activity. Wisconsin overall had a “very high” level of activity, according to DHS.

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 state’s Fox Valley region had the most new cases per capita over the previous two weeks, while Wisconsin’s North Central 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 42,234 as of Saturday. The number of actual people with new test results reported Saturday was 14,386.

A total of 1,677,866 people have been tested over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 1,530,306 have tested negative.