DHS Reports 1,672 New COVID-19 Cases Tuesday

7-Day Average Continues To Climb To New Record High

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People wearing mask because of the pandemic
Pedestrians wearing masks on Wednesday, Aug 5, 2020, at UW-Madison. Angela Major/WPR

The seven-day average for positive cases of COVID-19 continued its record climb on Tuesday, based on the latest update from the Department of Health Services.

Gov. Tony Evers issued a new statewide mask mandate on Tuesday in response to the recent spike in cases.

DHS reported 1,672 new cases of the virus on Tuesday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 1,838 daily cases, an all-time high. One week ago, the average was 1,261 daily cases.

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The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 104,170, according to the DHS. A total of 1,251 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19, with seven new deaths reported on Tuesday.

According to DHS, 13.3 percent of all test results reported on Tuesday were positive for COVID-19, bringing the overall percentage of positive tests over the past seven days to 16.7 percent. That figure has also been on the rise in the last week.

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 38,863 as of Tuesday. The number of actual people with test results reported on Tuesday was 12,537.

Overall, DHS has recorded a total of 1,452,662 people’s test results over the course of the pandemic. 1,348,492 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 71 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, Sept. 16, counties with the highest case rates per capita included La Crosse, Outagamie, Florence and Walworth. The counties with the most significant upward trends included Jackson, La Crosse and Langlade.

There have been confirmed cases in all 72 of Wisconsin’s counties, and every Wisconsin county reported at least one new case over the preceding week.

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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. On Tuesday, the state did see a downward trajectory in COVID-like cases over the past two weeks.

According to DHS, 6,765 people have been hospitalized because of the virus as of Tuesday. That means at least 6.5 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 37,885 people, or 36 percent.

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