DHS Reports 1,353 New COVID-19 Cases On Saturday

Seven-Day Average Climbs To Record 1,043 Cases

A pedestrian in a face mask leads her dog across across the street
A pedestrian in a face mask leads her dog across Wewatta Street as residents remain indoors despite the lifting of many restrictions to stop the rise of the new coronavirus Tuesday, May 19, 2020, in Denver. David Zalubowski/AP Photo

New reports of COVID-19 cases remain high and marked the third straight day of more than 1,000 new cases in Wisconsin, based on the latest data published by the state’s Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 1,353 new cases of the virus on Saturday after reporting 1,369 cases on Friday and a single-day record of 1,547 cases on Thursday.

New reported cases on Saturday bring the average for the past seven days to a record 1,043 daily cases. That’s the highest seven-day average of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began. One week ago, the average was 786 daily cases.

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The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 87,603, according to the DHS. A total of 1,209 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19, with 12 new deaths reported on Saturday.

According to DHS, 11.6 percent of all test results reported on Saturday were positive for COVID-19, bringing the overall percentage of positive tests over the past seven days to 13.4 percent. The previous seven-day period’s test-positive rate was 9.5 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 38,530 as of Saturday. The number of actual people with test results reported on Saturday was 11,624.

Overall, DHS has recorded a total of 1,351,908 people’s test results over the course of the pandemic. 1,264,305 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 65 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 Forest, Portage, Brown and Kewaunee. The counties with the most significant upward trends included Grant, Marquette, Green and Door.

Every Wisconsin county has reported at least one new COVID-19 case over the last two weeks, although Price County is experiencing a low level of coronavirus activity, according to DHS.


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 does not meet either of these criteria.

According to DHS, 6,309 people have been hospitalized because of the virus as of Saturday. That means at least 7.2 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 30,097people, or 34 percent.