DHS Reports 81 New COVID-19 Deaths

New Cases Have Fallen Since Mid-November, But Still Not To Summer's Lower Levels

Person wearing a facemask
A person wears a face covering to help prevent the spread of coronavirus while using a cellphone, Monday evening, Nov. 16, 2020, in Lewiston, Maine. Robert F. Bukaty/AP Photo

New reports of COVID-19 cases are holding steady in Wisconsin, based on the latest data published by the state Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 3,619 new cases of the disease Wednesday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 3,853 daily cases. That figure has been declining since mid-November, when it was more than 6,500.

There were 81 new deaths from COVID-19 reported Wednesday. On Wednesday, 8,106 tested negative.

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Of the people who got tested for COVID-19 over the past week, 29.5 percent were positive for the disease, according to DHS. That rate has been declining for about a week.

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 12.8 percent.

According to the Wisconsin Hospital Association, there were 1,556 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Tuesday. A total of 18,715 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 422,065, according to DHS. A total of 3,887 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19.

COVID-19 activity varies from county to county. The latest activity data from DHS, released last Wednesday, showed 41 counties had a “critically high level” of COVID-19 activity, while 31 were listed as having a “very high” level of activity. That’s a notable change from the previous week when 65 counties were listed as “critically high”. 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 last Wednesday, all of Wisconsin’s regions were seeing a downward trend in cases and three — the northeast, Fox Valley and south central regions — moved from “critically high” levels of activity to “very high.”

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 59,675 as of Wednesday. The number of actual people with new test results reported Wednesday was 11,726.

A total of 2,638,122 people have been tested over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 2,216,057 have tested negative.