Over 7K New COVID-19 Cases Reported Saturday, Marking Yet Another Record-Breaking Day

34 Percent Of People Tested In Past Week Have Been Positive For The Disease

a man remains in his car as a white swab is inserted into his nose by a man in a blue medical gown and gloves
Brian Andryk of Verona is tested for COVID-19 on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison. Angela Major/WPR

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

DHS reported 7,065 new cases of the disease Saturday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 5,394 daily cases. Saturday marked the third time in the last four days that the state broke a record for new daily COVID-19 cases.

There were 45 new deaths from COVID-19 reported Saturday. On Saturday, 11,863 tested negative.

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Thirty-four 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 rising significantly 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 17 percent.

According to DHS, there were 1,787 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Friday. A total of 12,727 people have been hospitalized because of the disease, or 4.8 percent of all positive cases.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 263,130, according to DHS. A total of 2,301 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19.

COVID-19 activity varies widely from county to county. In a media briefing on Wednesday, the DHS said that all 72 counties have a “very high level” of COVID-19 activity, based on the latest two weeks of data. Wisconsin overall had a “very 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.

According to data published Wednesday by the DHS, the North Central region of the state had the most new cases per capita over the previous two weeks. The western part of the state saw cases growing the fastest.

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 59,155 as of Saturday. The number of actual people with new test results reported Saturday was 18,928.

A total of 2,171,450 people have been tested over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 1,908,320 have tested negative.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Saturday marked the fourth day in the row in which the state broke its record for most daily new COVID-19 cases. There was not a record number of new cases on Nov. 5.