For The First Time Ever, Wisconsin Surpasses 1,000 New COVID-19 Cases In 1 Day

1,117 People Test Positive, 13 New Deaths Reported

A woman leans back in a car as her nose is swabbed for COVID-19
Penny Brooks, center, receives a COVID-19 test Tuesday, July 14, 2020, at Big Foot High School in Walworth, Wis. The tests were administered by the Wisconsin National Guard and Walworth County health officials. Angela Major/WPR

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

DHS reported 1,117 new cases of the virus on Tuesday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 890 daily cases.

Tuesday’s new case total is the highest that figure has ever been since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 44,135, according to the DHS. A total of 859 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19, with 13 new deaths reported on Tuesday.

According to DHS, 7.7 percent of all test results reported on Tuesday were positive for COVID-19, bringing the average percentage of positive tests over the past seven days to 7.8. That figure has been rising since July 13, when it was 6.7 percent.

The percentage of positive tests 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 24,162 as of Tuesday. The number of actual tests reported on Tuesday was 14,488.

Overall, DHS has recorded a total of 794,697 tests over the course of the pandemic; 750,562 have come back 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 59 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 Milwaukee, Trempealeau and Marquette. The counties with the most significant upward trends included Iron, Pepin and Price.

There have been confirmed cases in all 72 of Wisconsin’s counties, and based on the data from last week, all counties reported at least one case over a 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 Tuesday the state did meet the criteria for COVID-like cases, but not for influenza-like cases.

According to DHS, 4,194 people have been hospitalized because of the virus as of Wednesday. That means at least 10 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 14,889 people, or 34 percent.