DHS Reports 62 COVID-19 Deaths On Thanksgiving

New Cases Are Declining But Remain High Compared To Earlier This Year

A passenger wears personal protective equipment on a Delta Airlines flight
A passenger wears personal protective equipment on a Delta Airlines flight as a map depicting the spread of COVID-19 is displayed on a monitor after landing at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. John Minchillo/AP Photo

After a recent spike, new reports of COVID-19 cases continue to decline in Wisconsin, though they remain higher than any point during the pandemic prior to this month, based on the latest data published by the state Department of Health Services.

Meanwhile, health care professionals worry Thanksgiving could contribute to another surge of positive cases.

DHS reported 5,095 new cases of the disease Thursday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 5,152 daily cases. One week ago, the average was 6,635 daily cases. Daily new cases have been declining since mid-November, when the average exceeded 7,000 per day.

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There were 62 new deaths from COVID-19 reported Thursday. On Thursday, 8,653 tested negative.

Of the people who got tested for COVID-19 over the past week, 28.5 percent were positive for the disease, according to DHS. That rate has been on the decline since hitting an all-time high two weeks ago.

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.

On Sept. 30, DHS also introduced an alternative positivity rate, one that measures the percentage of tests that are positive, instead of the percentage of people who get a positive result. The new metric takes into account people who have been tested multiple times. The seven-day average for that number is at 12.7 percent. Nationally, an average of 9.5 percent of COVID-19 tests came back positive over the last seven days, according to Johns Hopkins University.

According to the Wisconsin Hospital Association, there were 1,892 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Wednesday. A total of 16,658 people have been hospitalized because of the disease, or 4.4 percent of all positive cases.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 374,537, according to DHS. A total of 3,240 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 65 counties had a “critically high level” of COVID-19 activity, while seven were listed as having a “very high” level of activity. Green County, which was the only county not experiencing a “critically high” activity level last week, was this week joined by Iron, Florence, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette and Green Lake counties. Wisconsin overall had a “critically high” level of activity, according to DHS.

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 regions were seeing either a downward trend in cases, or were holding steady, though all remained at “critically high” levels of activity. Three counties — Brown, Crawford and Douglas — had an upward trend in cases, while the remaining counties were either trending down or holding steady.

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 59,495 as of Thursday. The number of actual people with new test results reported Thursday was 13,748.

A total of 2,499,739 people have been tested over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 2,125,202 have tested negative.