DHS Reports 35 Deaths, 79 Hospitalizations Despite COVID-19 Case Decline

Gov. Tony Evers Signs Bill Allowing Pharmacy Students To Administer Vaccine

A health care worker fills a syringe with the COVID-19 vaccine
A health care worker fills a syringe with a COVID-19 vaccine, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at John Knox Village in Pompano Beach, Fla. Ninety residents and 80 staff members received their second shot of the vaccine Wednesday and 50 new staff members received their first round of the vaccine. Wilfredo Lee/AP Photo

New reports of COVID-19 cases continue to decline in Wisconsin, based on the latest data published by the state Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 774 new cases of the disease Friday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 635 daily cases. One week ago, the average was 832 daily cases. Daily new cases have been dropping since a post-holiday peak in January, when the average was nearly 3,000.

There were 35 new deaths from COVID-19 reported Friday. On Friday, 4,535 tested negative.

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Of the tests for COVID-19 conducted over the past week, 2.9 percent were positive for the disease, according to DHS. That rate has been on the decline since the beginning of the year, dropping below 5 percent earlier this month for the first time since August. The rate takes into account people who have been tested multiple times.

The positivity rate 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 COVID-19. A lower rate could indicate testing is more widespread. Changes in the test positivity rate can also speak to COVID-19’s spread, if the size and makeup of the testing pool stays consistent.

According to DHS, 1,410,300 doses of coronavirus vaccine have been allocated to Wisconsin by the federal government as of Tuesday, an increase of 258,275 from the previous week. A total of 1,119,705 doses have been administered in Wisconsin as of Friday, with 44.8 percent of Wisconsinites age 65 and up receiving at least one dose of the vaccine so far. DHS reported that 782,420 Wisconsin residents had received at least one dose, representing 13.4 percent of the state population. As of Friday, 314,762 people have received both shots in Wisconsin, completing the vaccination series.

While visiting a vaccine clinic at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh on Friday, Gov. Tony Evers signed legislation that will allow pharmacy students to administer the COVID-19 vaccine under certain conditions.

“While we work to get shots in arms as soon as we have supply available, we also want to make sure we’re maximizing our capacity by expanding the number of people who can administer those doses once we have them,” Evers said. “Getting vaccine doses to folks across our state continues to be our top priority, so we can recover and bounce back from this pandemic.”

According to the Wisconsin Hospital Association, there were 388 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Thursday. A total of 25,635 people have been hospitalized because of the disease, or 4.6 percent of all positive cases.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 558,496, according to DHS. A total of 6,267 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19.

COVID-19 activity varies from county to county. The latest activity data from DHS, released Wednesday, showed the state had no counties with a “critically high” level of COVID-19 activity. Four counties were listed as having a “very high” level of activity, 67 counties had a “high” level of activity, and one, Rusk County, had a “medium” level. The number of Wisconsin counties at a “very high” level of COVID-19 activity has been decreasing. Wisconsin’s overall level is “high.”

COVID-19 activity designations are based on 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.

As of Wednesday, all of Wisconsin’s seven regions were listed as “high,” and were seeing “no significant change” or “shrinking” levels of COVID-19 activity, according to DHS.

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 59,273 as of Friday. The number of actual people with new test results reported Friday was 5,309.

Throughout the course of the pandemic, 3,142,871 COVID-19 tests have been administered. Of those, 2,584,375 tests have been negative.