DHS Reports Another Record Day For COVID-19 Cases, Before Pausing Updates For The Weekend

DHS Reports 3,861 New Cases, 21 New Deaths

a man in a mask lifts a piece of plexiglass above a desk
Eric Kozak places a piece of plexiglass on a desk Friday, Jul 31, 2020, at the human resources offices at UW-Milwaukee. About 600 pieces of plexiglass will be placed around the campus, Kozak said. Angela Major/WPR

For the third time in the past seven days, the Department of Health Services has reported a record-breaking single-day total of new COVID-19 cases.

DHS reported 3,861 new cases of the disease Friday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 3,052 daily cases. It’s the first time the average has crested the 3,000 case mark.

Daily new cases have been rising since early September, when the average was less than 700.

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There were 21 new deaths from COVID-19 reported Friday, bringing the seven-day average to a record high of about 19 deaths per day. On Friday, 10,725 tested negative.

According to DHS, no new data will be reported over the weekend because of a planned upgrade to the Wisconsin Electronic Disease Surveillance System.

20.7 percent of people who got tested for COVID-19 over the past week were positive for the disease, according to DHS. That rate is also at an all-time high, and has been on the rise for weeks.

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 10.4 percent.

According to DHS, there were 1,043 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Thursday. A total of 9,027 people have been hospitalized because of the disease, or 5.4 percent of all positive cases.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 166,186, according to DHS. A total of 1,574 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19.

COVID-19 activity varies heavily from county to county. The latest activity data from DHS, released Wednesday, showed 57 counties had a “very high level” of COVID-19 activity, two higher than in the previous week’s report. The rest had a “high” level of activity. Wisconsin overall had a “very 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.

On Wednesday, the state’s Fox Valley region had the most new cases per capita over the previous two weeks, while Wisconsin’s South Central region saw cases rise most rapidly.

DHS Secretary Andrea Palm said Thursday the state is receiving testing supplies from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to address the surge in cases.

“We will start to deploy those in the Fox Valley in the coming days with some additional community testing capacity there,” she said.

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 42,451 as of Friday. The number of actual people with new test results reported Friday was 14,586.

A total of 1,756,755 people have been tested over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 1,590,569 have tested negative.