More Than 5K People Have Died From COVID-19 In Wisconsin

Latest State Data Reports 60 New Deaths From Disease, New Cases Rising Statewide

COVID-19 vaccine
Salt Lake City firefighter Mark Peterson receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up vaccine clinic for EMS workers Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, in Salt Lake City. Rick Bowmer/AP Photo

More than 5,000 Wisconsinites have died from COVID-19, according to new data from the state Department of Health Services.

The state reported 60 deaths Wednesday, bringing the total number of deaths from the disease to 5,039.

At the same time, new COVID-19 infections and the percentage of positive tests continued to rise following a six-week decline that ended just after Christmas.

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DHS reported 3,406 new cases of the disease Wednesday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 2,493 daily cases. Wisconsin’s seven-day average peaked in mid-November at more than 6,500. It reached its lowest point since September on Dec. 26 when the average dropped to 1,882 and has been rising in the weeks since.

On Wednesday, 6,568 people tested negative.

Of the people who got tested for COVID-19 over the past week, 32 percent were positive for the disease, according to DHS. That rate has been rapidly climbing and is near the all-time high of 37.7 percent on Nov. 11.

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 11.6 percent.

On Dec. 29, DHS officials began sharing vaccine data information, which will be updated every Tuesday.

According to DHS, 420,200 doses of the vaccine has been allocated across Wisconsin as of Tuesday. Currently, 85,609 doses of the vaccines have been administered while 266,675 have been shipped. Of the two vaccines approved for use, 64,674 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered while 20,935 doses are the Moderna vaccine.

A graph showing the daily number of vaccinations across the state saw vaccinations increase steadily in the last days of 2020. Preliminary data shows a sharp decrease in vaccinations Jan. 1, with an increase in the days after that.

According to the Wisconsin Hospital Association, there were 1,102 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Tuesday. A total of 21,971 people have been hospitalized because of the disease, or 4.4 percent of all positive cases.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 494,747, according to DHS.

COVID-19 activity varies from county to county. The latest activity data from DHS, released Wednesday, showed Menominee County with a “critically high” level of COVID-19 activity, while 61 counties were listed as having a “very high” level of activity. Ten counties had a “high” level of activity. The number of Wisconsin counties at a “critically high” level of COVID-19 activity has been on the decline. Wisconsin’s overall level is “very high.”

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, all seven of Wisconsin’s regions had “very high” levels of activity and were listed as “growing” in activity, according to DHS.

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 59,245 as of Wednesday. The number of actual people with new test results reported Wednesday was 9,974.

A total of 2.9 million people have been tested over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 2.4 million have tested negative.