New COVID-19 Cases Drop To Their Lowest Level Since Aug. 3

DHS Reports 453 New Cases, No Deaths On Sunday

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Worker manufacturing protective masks
A worker checks protective masks being manufactured in Warren, Mich., Thursday, April 23, 2020. Paul Sancya/AP Photo

New reports of COVID-19 cases on Sunday reached their lowest level since the beginning of August, based on the latest data published by the state’s Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 453 new cases of the virus on Sunday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 674 daily cases.

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Sunday’s new case total is the lowest that figure has been since Aug. 3, when there were 404 new cases.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 70,462, according to the DHS. A total of 1,081 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19, with no new deaths reported on Sunday.

According to DHS, 9.4 percent of all test results reported on Sunday were positive for COVID-19, bringing the overall percentage of positive tests over the past seven days to 8 percent. The seven-day average one week ago was 7.2 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 26,162 as of Sunday. The number of actual people with test results reported on Sunday was 4,814.

Overall, DHS has recorded a total of 1,185,611 people’s test results over the course of the pandemic. 1,115,149 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 67 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 Aug. 19, counties with the highest case rates per capita included Iron, Marinette and Sawyer. The counties with the most significant upward trends included Iron, Manitowoc and Walworth.

There have been confirmed cases in all 72 of Wisconsin’s counties. Based on the data from Wednesday, all counties reported new cases over the two-week period.

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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. The state has seen a downward trend of COVID-like cases reported in the last two weeks, but influenza-like cases are largely holding steady.

According to DHS, 5,558 people have been hospitalized because of the virus as of Sunday. That means at least 7.9 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 23,786 people, or 34 percent.

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