DHS Reports 981 New Cases of COVID-19 Tuesday

Highest Number Of New Positives Since August 6

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A coronavirus testing site in Seattle.
Heather Brown, right, is tested for COVID-19 at a new walk-up testing site at Chief Sealth High School, Friday, Aug. 28, 2020, in Seattle. Elaine Thompson/AP Photo

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

DHS reported 981 new cases of the virus on Tuesday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 727 daily cases, the highest it’s been since August 20.

One week ago, the average was 666 daily cases.

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The DHS confirmed on Monday that the Wisconsin Electronic Disease Surveillance System, which local health departments use to report COVID-19 cases, was “down for a bit” on Sunday. It did not say how that outage would impact the numbers on Monday or Tuesday. Public Health Madison and Dane County tweeted about the system outage, and said case numbers would look “artificially low” on Monday, and that Tuesday’s numbers would “change considerably” to reflect cases not included on Monday.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 76,584, according to the DHS. A total of 1,130 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19, with eight new deaths reported on Tuesday.

According to DHS, 8.3 percent of all test results reported on Tuesday were positive for COVID-19, bringing the overall percentage of positive tests over the past seven days to 8.5 percent. That represents a slight increase in the seven-day positive average, which had stayed below 8.4 percent since August 28.

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 26,591 as of Tuesday. The number of actual people with test results reported on Tuesday was 11,844.

Overall, DHS has recorded a total of 1,260,301 people’s test results over the course of the pandemic. 1,183,717 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 65 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 Aug. 26, counties with the highest case rates per capita included Iron, Sawyer, Oconto and Marintette. The counties with the most significant upward trends included Green Lake, Clark and Fond du Lac.

There have been confirmed cases in all 72 of Wisconsin’s counties. Based on the data from last Wednesday, all counties reported cases over the 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 Tuesday, the criteria for a downward trajectory of COVID-like cases over the past 14 days had been met, though the trajectory for influenza-like cases had not.

According to DHS, 5,878 people have been hospitalized because of the virus as of Tuesday. That means at least 8 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 25,749 people, or 34 percent.

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