DHS: Percentage Of Positive COVID-19 Tests Climbs To 9.6

957 New Cases, 1 Death Reported Sunday

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Eva Davis peaks with her daughters at a nursing home
Eva Davis, 94, middle, speaks with her daughters Lori Hall, left, and Elaine Krohn, right, outdoors at the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center, Wednesday June 10, 2020, in Boston. Elise Amendola/AP Photo

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 957 new cases of the virus on Sunday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 930 daily cases. New reports of COVID-19 cases dipped below 1,000 after topping that mark three times last week in Wisconsin.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 48,827, according to the DHS. A total of 892 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19, with one new death reported on Sunday.

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According to DHS, 9.6 percent of all test results reported on Sunday were positive for COVID-19, bringing the average percentage of positive tests over the past seven days to 7.4 percent. Today’s percentage of positive tests is the highest since July 20 when it was 10.1 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 Sunday. The number of actual tests reported on Sunday was 83.

Overall, DHS has recorded a total of 866,376 cases over the course of the pandemic. 817,549 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 58 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 July 22, counties with the highest case rates per capita included Iron, Milwaukee, Brown and Racine. The counties with the most significant upward trends included Lincoln and Racine.

There have been confirmed cases in all 72 of Wisconsin’s counties, and based on the data from last Wednesday, all counties had at least one new case 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. Wisconsin does not meet either of these criteria.

According to DHS, 4,394 people have been hospitalized because of the virus as of Sunday. 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 16,667 people, or 34 percent.

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