Gov. Evers Warns Of ‘New And Dangerous Phase’ Of Pandemic In Wisconsin

DHS: 2,392 New Cases Of COVID-19 Brings 7-Day Average To New Record High

Governor Tony Evers addresses the public while wearing a mask
Gov. Tony Evers addresses the public during a Department of Health Services media briefing Aug. 13, 2020. Wisconsin Department of Health Services via YouTube

New reports of COVID-19 cases are on the rise and the seven-day average is three times what it was a month ago, based on the latest data published by the state’s Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 2,392 new cases of the virus on Thursday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 1,940 daily cases. One month ago, the average was 665 daily cases.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

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

Daily new cases have been rising for much of September as colleges and universities have reopened. Gov. Tony Evers said in an online briefing that there has been “unprecedented near exponential growth” of positive COVID-19 cases in 18-24 year olds, five times the growth of any other age group.

Wisconsin ranks third highest nationally in the number of cases per capita for the last seven days.

“Folks, we’re seeing a new and dangerous phase of the COVID-19 pandemic here in Wisconsin,” Evers said.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 108,324, according to the DHS. A total of 1,265 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19, with six new deaths reported on Thursday.

According to DHS, 18 percent of all test results reported on Thursday were positive for COVID-19, bringing the overall percentage of positive tests over the past seven days to 17 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 38,959 as of Thursday. The number of actual people with test results reported on Thursday was 13,279.

Overall, DHS has recorded a total of 1,479,394 people’s test results over the course of the pandemic. 1,371,070 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 all 72 Wisconsin 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 Forest, La Crosse, Kewaunee and Florence counties. The counties with the most significant upward trends included Menominee, Price and Lafayette and Ashland counties.

COVID-19 hospitalizations are also at a record high in the state, with the Wisconsin Hospital Association showing 509 hospitalized patients in Wisconsin as of Wednesday.


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. Neither criteria were met.

According to DHS, 6,897 people have been hospitalized because of the virus as of Thursday. That means at least 6.4 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 39,585 people, or 37 percent.