For The Second Day In A Row, Wisconsin Shatters Record For New COVID-19 Cases

DHS Reports 7,777 New Cases And 58 More Deaths

A man in a face mask holds a swab as he approaches the driver of a vehicle. The man is in silhouette and under a tent as the sun begins to set.
A member of the Wisconsin National Guard administers a COVID-19 test Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, at Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville. Angela Major/WPR

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

DHS reported 7,777 new cases of the disease Friday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 6,442 daily cases. Both the new case total and seven-day average are the highest either figure has been since the beginning of the pandemic in Wisconsin, breaking records set just one day before. On Thursday, the state reported 7,497 new cases.

There were 58 new deaths from COVID-19 reported Friday. On Friday, 10,733 tested negative.

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Assistant Department of Health Services Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk told reporters Thursday that COVID-19 “is everywhere in our state. It is bad everywhere, and it’s getting worse everywhere. It is straining hospitals, and people are dying.”

36.2 percent of people who got tested for COVID-19 over the past week were positive for the disease, according to DHS. That rate is at an all-time high.

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 18.8 percent.

According to the Wisconsin Hospital Association, there were 2,077 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Thursday. A total of 14,045 people have been hospitalized because of the disease, or 4.7 percent of all positive cases.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 301,165, according to DHS. A total of 2,573 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19.

COVID-19 activity varies from county to county. On Wednesday the DHS revised is categories for severity to include a “critically high level,” which the agency said is three times higher than “very high,” the former top level. The DHS showed 65 counties had a “critically high level” of COVID-19 activity, and the rest had a ” very high” level of activity. Wisconsin overall had a “critically high” level of 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 Wednesday, the north-central region of the state had the most new cases per capita over the previous two weeks, while the northwest region 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 59,194 as of Friday. The number of actual people with new test results reported Friday was 18,510.

A total of 2,276,677 people have been tested over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 1,975,512 have tested negative.


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