New COVID-19 Cases In Wisconsin Declining As Vaccine Rollout Slowly Continues

DHS Reports 2,177 New Cases, 45 New Deaths

People wait in line in a parking lot
People wait in line to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a public high school in Paterson, N.J., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. Ted Shaffrey/AP Photo

New reports of COVID-19 cases are declining in Wisconsin, based on the latest data published by the state Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 2,177 new cases of the disease Thursday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 1,731 daily cases, the lowest it has been since mid-September. One week ago, the average was 2,492 daily cases.

There were 45 new deaths from COVID-19 reported Thursday. On Thursday, 6,510 tested negative.

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Of the people tested for COVID-19 over the past week, 22.4 percent were positive for the disease, according to DHS. That rate has been on the decline for about two weeks.

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.

DHS also tracks the percentage of tests that are positive, instead of the percentage of people who get a positive result. The metric takes into account people who have been tested multiple times. The seven-day average for that number is 7.2 percent.

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

According to DHS, 779,800 doses of the vaccine have been allocated to Wisconsin by the federal government as of Tuesday, an increase of 172,150 from the last update. Currently, 285,358 doses of the vaccines have been administered, and 51,801 people have received both shots, completing the vaccination series.

A graph showing the daily number of vaccinations across the state has seen a steady increase in doses administered since the beginning of 2021 — although doses administered dip on weekends.

On Tuesday, DHS announced people age 65 and older would be eligible to receive a vaccine starting on Monday. The announcement comes ahead of the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee’s recommendations for who will be eligible for the vaccine in the next phase, 1b, in Wisconsin.

According to the Wisconsin Hospital Association, there were 834 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Wednesday. A total of 23,445 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 528,101, according to DHS. A total of 5,607 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 Buffalo County with a “critically high” level of COVID-19 activity, while 60 counties were listed as having a “very high” level of activity and 10 counties had a “high” level of activity. The number of Wisconsin counties at a “critically high” level of COVID-19 activity has been decreasing. 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 seeing “shrinking” levels of COVID-19 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 59,275 as of Thursday. The number of actual people with new test results reported Thursday was 8,687.

A total of 2,985,133 people have been tested over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 2,457,032 have tested negative.