Wisconsin Breaks Record Of Daily Positive Cases For Third Day In Less Than A Week

New Positive Cases Top 2,500 Friday, More Records Set

Signage during COVID-19 outbreak
dmbosstone (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Wisconsin has recorded its highest ever number of daily positive cases for a third day in less than a week, based on the latest data published by the state’s Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 2,533 new cases of the virus Friday, eclipsing Thursday’s record of 2,034 new cases, and a record set Sunday of 1,582 new cases.

The new daily positive numbers bring the average for the past seven days to a record of 1,576 daily cases. One week ago, the average was 985 daily cases. A week before that, the average was 768.

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The latest figures mean the overall total number of positive cases in Wisconsin is 97,279, according to the DHS. A total of 1,238 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19, with seven new deaths reported on Friday.

According to DHS, 19.4 percent of all test results reported Friday were positive for COVID-19, bringing the overall percentage of positive tests over the past seven days to 15.3, another record for the state. The previous seven-day period’s test-positive rate was 13.6.

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 38,563 as of Friday. The number of actual people with test results reported on Friday was 13,067.

Overall, DHS has recorded a total of 1,412,537 people’s test results over the course of the pandemic. 1,315,258 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 71 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 Wednesday, counties with the highest case rates per capita included La Crosse, Outagamie, Florence and Walworth. The counties with the most significant upward trends included Jackson, La Crosse and Langlade.

There have been confirmed cases in all 72 of Wisconsin’s counties, and every Wisconsin county reported at least one new case over the preceding week.


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. Wisconsin does not currently meet either criteria.

According to DHS, 6,569 people have been hospitalized because of the virus as of Friday. That means at least 7 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 34,661 people, or 36 percent.