DHS Reports 15 New COVID-19 Deaths, The Most In One Day Since June 9

832 New Cases Reported On Friday

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three people stand under a tent as they wait for a car to drive up
Drive thru COVID-19 tests are given to Wisconsin residents Tuesday, July 28, 2020, at Lake Geneva Middle School in Lake Geneva, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

New reports of COVID-19 cases declined slightly today in Wisconsin, based on the latest data published by the state’s Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 832 new cases of the virus on Friday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 860 daily cases. That average has dipped since a week ago, when it was 916 daily cases.

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The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 52,940, according to the DHS. A total of 934 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19, with 15 new deaths reported on Friday — the highest daily number of deaths since June 9.

According to DHS, 5.4 percent of all test results reported on Friday were positive for COVID-19, bringing the average percentage of positive tests over the past seven days to 6.8 percent. That figure has been on a slow decline since July 21, when the average was 7.8 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 Friday. The number of actual tests reported on Friday was 15,379.

Overall, DHS has recorded a total of 935,089 over the course of the pandemic. 882,149 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 61 counties had a “high level” of coronavirus activity. Nine counties were classified as having medium levels of activity: Ashland, Crawford, Green, Green Lake, Iowa, Jackson, Vilas, Vernon and Richland. Only two, Florence and Rusk counties, had low levels of activity. Every region in the state was considered to have high 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.

There have been confirmed cases in all 72 counties, and based on the data from Wednesday, only one county reported no new cases 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. The state currently meet the requirement for COVID-like cases, but not for influenza-like cases.

According to DHS, 4,537 people have been hospitalized because of the virus as of Friday. 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 17,957 people, or 34 percent.

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