New COVID-19 Cases, Deaths Again Reach Record Highs In Wisconsin

Gov. Tony Evers Plans Statewide Address On Pandemic

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

New reports of COVID-19 cases and deaths are again at all-time highs in Wisconsin, based on the latest data published by the state Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 7,073 new cases of the disease on Tuesday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 5,825 daily cases. One week ago, the average was 4,536 daily cases.

Tuesday’s new case total is the highest that figure has been since the start of the pandemic, breaking Saturday’s record high of 7,065 new cases.

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Gov. Tony Evers will deliver a statewide address regarding the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday evening. The speech will be aired live online and on media outlets, including WPR.

There were 66 new deaths from COVID-19 reported Tuesday, setting another record high for the state. On Tuesday, 12,926 tested negative.

According to DHS, 36 percent of people who got tested for COVID-19 over the past week were positive for the disease, according to DHS. That rate has been on the rise for the past month.

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 18.1 percent.

According to DHS, there were 2,003 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Monday, the most there have ever been. A total of 13,230 people have been hospitalized because of the disease, or 4.7 percent of all positive cases.

On Tuesday, Mayo Clinic Health System announced that all of its hospital beds in northwest Wisconsin are full as a result of a surge of COVID-19 patients. There are currently 83 infected patients at locations in the cities of Barron, Bloomer, Eau Claire, Osseo and Menomonie. Administrators said 50 percent of all intensive care unit beds in the region are occupied by COVID-19 patients, as are 40 percent of surgical beds. At the same time, around 300 Mayo hospital staff are unable to work because of exposure to the virus.

A Mayo press release said that COVID-19 patients remain hospitalized up to three times longer than those without the disease, and called on the public to “treat COVID-19 as the health emergency it is” to prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed.

“We need your help and we need it now,” said the release.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 278,843, according to DHS. A total of 2,395 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19.

COVID-19 activity varies from county to county. The latest activity data from DHS, released last Wednesday, showed all 72 counties in Wisconsin had a “very high level” of COVID-19 activity.

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 last week, the north-central region of the state had the most new cases per capita, while western Wisconsin 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 59,179 as of Tuesday. The number of actual people with new test results reported Tuesday was 19,999.

A total of 2,218,287 people have been tested over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 1,939,444 people have tested negative.