DHS: State Averaging More Than 3,900 COVID-19 Cases Per Day In Past Week

7-Day Percent Positive Rate At All-Time High

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Tester administers swab test at drive-in testing site
A tester prepares to administer a swab test at a drive-in COVID-19 testing site Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Federal Heights, Colo. David Zalubowski/AP Photo

New reports of COVID-19 cases dipped slightly Wednesday, but remain extremely high in Wisconsin, based on the latest data published by the state Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 3,815 new cases of the disease Wednesday, bringing the average for the past seven days down to 3,919 daily cases. One week ago, the average was 3,444 daily cases. A week before that, the average was 2,840 daily cases.

There were 45 new deaths from COVID-19 reported Wednesday, bringing the seven-day average to 31 deaths per day. On Wednesday, 6,003 tested negative.

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27.2 percent of people who got tested for COVID-19 over the past week were positive for the disease, according to DHS. That rate has been on a steep upward climb since early October, when it hovered around 17 percent.

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 14 percent.

According to DHS, there were 1,385 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Tuesday. A total of 10,810 people have been hospitalized because of the disease, or 5.1 percent of all positive cases.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 210,126, according to DHS. A total of 1,897 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19.

COVID-19 activity varies heavily from county to county. According to the latest data DHS released Wednesday afternoon, 70 counties in Wisconsin had a “very high” level of COVID-19 activity, an increase of two counties since last week and just two counties shy of every county in the state experiencing the highest level of disease activity.

The remaining two — Douglas and Vernon counties — 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.

In Wednesday’s data, the state’s Fox Valley region continued to have the most new cases per capita over the previous two weeks. The state’s northwest region saw cases rise most rapidly.

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 42,474 as of Wednesday. The number of actual people with new test results reported Wednesday was 9,818.

A total of 2,005,287 people have been tested over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 1,795,161 have tested negative.

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