DHS Reports Record 1,165 New COVID-19 Cases Saturday

996 People Have Died From COVID-19 In Wisconsin

A woman in a face shield and a blue gown turns away from a car with a sample in her hands
A woman handles a COVID-19 testing swab Tuesday, July 28, 2020, at Lake Geneva Middle School in Lake Geneva, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

Wisconsin reported a record number of new coronavirus cases Saturday, based on the latest data published by the state’s Department of Health Services.

According to the DHS, there were 1,165 new cases of the virus on Saturday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 847 daily cases. Despite the spike in cases Saturday, the seven-day average for new COVID-19 infections is down slightly from a week ago when it was 876.

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The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 59,933, according to the DHS. A total of 996 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19, with six new deaths reported on Saturday. The state could reach the grim milestones of 60,000 cases and 1,000 deaths Sunday.

According to DHS, 8.9 percent of all test results reported on Saturday were positive for COVID-19, bringing the average percentage of positive tests over the past seven days to 6.4. The seven-day average a week ago was 7.1 percent.

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 Saturday, though at least one Wisconsin hospital group has announced it will close several community testing sites over a lack of supplies. The number of actual people with test results reported on Saturday was 13,162.

Overall, DHS has recorded a total of 1,046,878 people’s test results over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 986,945 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.


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 Saturday, Wisconsin met the former criteria, but not the latter.

According to DHS, 4,980 people have been hospitalized because of the virus, including 50 new hospitalizations Saturday. 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 20,242 people, or 34 percent.