Health Officials Report 83 New COVID-19 Deaths In Wisconsin Thursday

DHS Says There Were 6,635 New Positive Cases

A man uses a phone to enter information for COVID-19 testing
A member of the Wisconsin National Guard gets information from someone waiting to receive a COVID-19 test Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, at Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville. Angela Major/WPR

Eighty-three more people in Wisconsin have died in the last day from complications of COVID-19. That’s the second highest one-day death total since the pandemic began, based on the latest data published by the state Department of Health Services. The highest death total came on Nov. 17, when DHS reported 92 deaths.

New reports of COVID-19 cases are averaging at around 6,440 per day in Wisconsin, and DHS reported 6,635 new cases of the disease Thursday. A week ago, the average was 6,209 daily cases. On Thursday, 12,585 tests were negative.

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Of the people who got tested for COVID-19 over the past week, 33.1 percent were positive for the disease, according to DHS. That rate has been on the rise, but on Thursday, it was lower than it has been since Nov. 1.

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 16 percent.

According to the Wisconsin Hospital Association, there were 2,217 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Thursday. A total of 15,336 people have been hospitalized because of the disease, or 4.5 percent of all positive cases.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 338,472, according to DHS. A total of 2,876 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19.

COVID-19 activity varies from county to county. The latest activity data from DHS, released Wednesday, showed all but one of Wisconsin’s counties had a “critically high level” of COVID-19 activity, and Green County had a “very high” level of activity. Wisconsin overall had a “critically 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.

As of Wednesday, the northwestern region of the state had the most new cases per capita over the previous two weeks, while the western and northwestern regions 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 59,159 as of Nov. 17. The number of actual people with new test results reported Thursday was 31,280.

A total of 2,387,998 people have been tested over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 2,049,526 have tested negative.