DHS Reports 621 New COVID-19 Cases Sunday

Wisconsin Is Two Deaths Away From Hitting 1,000

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a volunteer in a mask places a box of food in the trunk of a sedan
Volunteer Tom Jisa places a box of food in the trunk of a car Tuesday, Aug 4, 2020, at Westside Elementary School in Sun Prairie. Angela Major/WPR

New reports of COVID-19 cases declined in Wisconsin Sunday, one day after the state set a new single-day high.

The state’s Department of Health Services reported 621 new cases of the virus on Sunday, a number roughly half as large as the record 1,165 cases reported a day before. Sunday’s data brings the seven-day average for COVID-19 cases to 804, which is down from the 871 seven-day average recorded a week ago.

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The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 60,554 since the pandemic began, according to the DHS. A total of 998 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19, with two new deaths reported on Sunday.

According to DHS, 8.4 percent of all test results reported on Sunday were positive for COVID-19, which was down slightly from 8.9 percent the day before.

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 24,156 as of Sunday. The number of actual people with test results reported on Sunday was 7,418, down considerably from the 13,162 total tests reported Saturday.

Overall, DHS has recorded a total of 1,054,296 test results over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 993,742 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 66 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 Iron, Barron and Burnett. The counties with the most significant upward trends included Iowa, Green and Washburn.

There have been confirmed cases in all 72 of Wisconsin’s counties, and based on the data released Wednesday, every county had a case over the previous 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. On Sunday, Wisconsin met the former criteria, but not the latter.

According to DHS, 5,000 people have been hospitalized because of the virus as of Sunday. That means at least 8.3 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 20,516 people, or 34 percent.

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