DHS: Record High COVID-19 Numbers On Friday Are Due To Test Reporting Errors

DHS Reported 1,498 New Cases Of The Virus On Friday

A woman sews face masks in a factory that usually makes clothes
A machinist, usually sewing high end fashion, sews scrubs for the NHS at the factory of Fashion Enter in London, as the country is in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, Friday, April 3, 2020. The company normally makes fashion garments for Asos, but the shortages within the NHS mean that they have put their fashion orders on hold whilst they make PPE (personal protective equipment) to protect workers against the coronavirus outbreak. Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP Photo

New daily COVID-19 cases hit an all-time high Friday in Wisconsin, based on the latest data published by the state’s Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 1,498 new cases of the virus on Friday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 768 daily cases. One week ago, the average was 703 daily cases.

According to DHS, the high number is due to a delay in processing the tests.

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“Problems with the laboratory test reporting over the last few days delayed the processing of the numbers until today, but that has now been fixed,” said a post on the DHS Facebook page. DHS had previously reported a brief outage of the Wisconsin Electronic Disease Surveillance System, which local health departments use to report COVID-19 cases.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 79,354, according to the DHS. A total of 1,153 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19, with seven new deaths reported on Friday.

Gov. Tony Evers said public health shouldn’t be a partisan issue, in response to a lawsuit filed last week by a conservative advocacy group that seeks to challenge his latest emergency declaration and mask mandate. His remarks came as state health officials confirmed 727 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday.

“Science should not be a partisan issue, and a county-by-county piecemeal approach to the pandemic wasn’t working,” said Evers in a DHS briefing. “Our numbers continue to rise, families continue to lose loved ones, and we’ve reached record daily increases of positive cases, day after day.”

According to DHS, 12.8 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 9.1 percent. The previous seven-day period’s test-positive rate was 8.4 percent.

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 27,080 as of Friday. The number of actual people with test results reported on Friday was 11,702.

Overall, DHS has recorded a total of 1,289,557 people’s test results over the course of the pandemic. 1,210,203 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 64 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 Juneau, Iron, Brown and Racine. The counties with the most significant upward trends included Kewaunee, Forest, Adams and Shawano.

The largest spikes in cases Friday were in Brown, Dane, Milwaukee and Outagamie counties with smaller but still significant spikes in La Crosse, Racine, Walworth, Waukesha, Washington and Winnebago counties.

There have been confirmed cases in all 72 of Wisconsin’s counties and all counties reported new cases of COVID-19 in the last two weeks.


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 did not meet either of those criteria on Friday.

According to DHS, 5,998 people have been hospitalized because of the virus as of Friday. That means at least 7.6 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 26,822 people, or 34 percent.