DHS: Wisconsin Isn’t Out Of The Woods With COVID-19

State Reports More Than 12K New COVID-19 Test Results Thursday

a woman has her temperature checked
Amid concerns of the spread of COVID-19, a woman has her temperature checked before entering the new baseball park in Arlington, Texas, Monday, June 1, 2020. LM Otero/AP Photo

There have been 19,892 positive cases of COVID-19 in Wisconsin as of Thursday, according to the state Department of Health Services. That’s an increase of 492 cases from the day before.

According to health officials, 626 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19 as of Thursday afternoon.

DHS reported 291,367 negative tests for the new coronavirus, an increase of 11,656 from Wednesday to Thursday.

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As of Thursday, 65 percent of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered, according to DHS. Three percent who have tested positive have died from the virus.

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 15,115 as of Wednesday. An increase in testing is one reason for the increase in the number of positive cases. The percentage of positive tests was 4.1 percent Thursday. It was 2.9 percent Wednesday and it hit its lowest point Sunday at 2.3 percent.

Wisconsin has seen a 14-day downward trajectory in the percentage of positive tests — a key metric signifying COVID-19 is under control.

The state, however, has not seen a downward trajectory of COVID-like illnesses reported within a 14-day period.

As for the state’s hospitals, 95 percent report being able to treat all patients without crisis standards of care and 95 percent of hospitals claim they have arranged to test all symptomatic staff treating patients — two metrics being tracked by DHS. There hasn’t been a downward trend of COVID-19 cases among health care workers, calculated weekly, or a downward trend of flu-like illnesses reported within a 14-day period.

Wisconsin Isn’t Out Of The Woods

While the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests in Wisconsin has remained low in recent days, health officials warned the virus still poses a threat.

Some communities, including Racine, are still seeing high rates of positive cases, and outbreaks can spread quickly, said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ryan Westergaard.

“This is a long contest between public health and the virus,” he said.

When it comes to managing the pandemic in Wisconsin, it’ll be important to contain the coronavirus as much as possible before the cold and flu season starts later this year, Westergaard said.

Though the pandemic is far from over, it’s likely most Wisconsinites will not become infected with the virus if they continue to take precautions, he said.

“It’s circulating at a level where it’s certainly not a foregone conclusion that a majority of people will even be exposed to it,” he said.

The state is continuing to hire contact tracers, said DHS Secretary Andrea Palm. Officials urged anyone with symptoms to be tested for the virus.

State Officials Outline Response Plans

Gov. Tony Evers plans to spend $1 billion in federal funds to combat COVID-19 in Wisconsin. The money will be used to pay for contact tracing, ongoing efforts to test people for the virus and preparing for a potential surge.

Last week, Evers announced the $200 million “Routes to Recovery” grant program funded by the federal coronavirus relief bill and aimed at helping local governments address urgent needs. Evers said $10 million of that will go to Wisconsin’s tribal nations, with the remainder distributed among county, city, village and town governments.

Last week, DHS Secretary Andrea Palm announced $10 million will be used to reimburse health clinics providing coronavirus-related care to underserved populations. The funding is from the federal coronavirus relief bill. Rural and tribal health clinics, community health centers, and free and low-cost clinics are eligible for the funding.

Testing Efforts Continue To Ramp Up

Friday was the first time the state met the plan’s goal of testing 12,000 people per day for COVID-19, with DHS reporting a total of 12,869 tests. Testing totals dipped over the weekend, with DHS reporting 9,320 tests Saturday, and 7,195 Sunday. On Thursday, 12,148 tests were reported.

According to DHS, 2,739 people have been hospitalized because of the virus as of Thursday. That means at least 14 percent of people who have tested positive for the new coronavirus in the state have been hospitalized. DHS officials have said they don’t know the hospitalization history of 6,087 people, or 31 percent.

There are confirmed cases in all 72 of Wisconsin’s counties.

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