State Health Officials Report 567 New COVID-19 Cases To Cap Labor Day Weekend’s Rise

DHS Officials Report No New Deaths Monday

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A waiter in a face mask takes the order of customers inside a local restaurant during lunch during the coronavirus pandemic on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, in Hoboken, N.J. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AP Photo

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

DHS reported 567 new cases of the virus on Monday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 880 daily cases.

It’s typical for the DHS to report lower numbers of COVID-19 cases on Mondays. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 13 weeks in which Mondays are the weekday with the lowest case totals. One week ago, the average was 678 daily cases. Daily new cases have been rising since last weekend.

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The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 81,760, according to the DHS. A total of 1,168 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19, with zero new deaths reported on Monday.

According to DHS, 10.4 percent of all test results reported on Monday were positive for COVID-19, bringing the overall percentage of positive tests over the past seven days to 10.2 percent. The previous seven-day period’s test-positive rate has been rising since Aug. 31, when it was 8.2 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 27,080 as of Monday. The number of actual people with test results reported on Monday was 5,466.

Overall, DHS has recorded a total of 1,308,553 people’s test results over the course of the pandemic. So far, 1,226,793 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 64 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 Sept. 2, counties with the highest case rates per capita included Juneau, Iron, Brown and Racine. The counties with the most significant upward trends included Kewaunee, Forest, Adams and Shawano.

The largest spikes in cases Friday were in Brown, Dane, Milwaukee and Outagamie counties with smaller but still significant spikes in La Crosse, Racine, Walworth, Waukesha, Washington and Winnebago counties.

There have been confirmed cases in all 72 of Wisconsin’s counties and all counties reported new cases of COVID-19 in the last two weeks.

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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. On Monday, Wisconsin’s dashboard still showed a downward trajectory of COVID-like illnesses over the last two weeks, though not of influenza-like illnesses.

According to DHS, 6,089 people have been hospitalized because of the virus as of Monday. That means at least 7.4 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 27,752 people, or 34 percent.

Public health officials are concerned that the start of the school year, both at university campuses and K-12 schools across the state, could increase community transmission of the disease. There are other factors that could contribute as well. Wisconsin’s five Catholic diocese announced last week that they would lift the suspension of Sunday mass.

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