Wisconsin COVID-19 Cases Continue To Drop But Officials Warn Fight Is Far From Over

A Second Case Of COVID-19 Variant Found In State; Officials Urge Continued Precautions

A man in suspenders sits as he receives a shot
Touchmark resident Al Gresl, right, receives a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, in Appleton, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

New reports of COVID-19 cases continue to decline in Wisconsin, even as concern rises over confirmation of a second case of a more transmissible variant of the coronavirus in the state.

Based on the latest data published by the state Department of Health Services, there were 681 new cases of the disease Tuesday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 970 daily cases. That is the first time in five months that number has dipped below 1,000. On Sept. 9 the seven-day average was 886.

Over 10 percent of adults eligible for vaccination against COVID-19 have gotten shots and Gov. Tony Evers says the state is working “tirelessly” to increase that number.

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“But that does not mean we can let our guard down or give up the strategies we know saves lives. Our fight against this virus isn’t over,” Evers said Tuesday during a briefing.

There were 39 new deaths from COVID-19 reported Tuesday. On Tuesday, 3,487 tested negative.

Of the total tests for COVID-19 conducted over the past week, 4 percent were positive for the disease, according to DHS. Less than a month ago, 11 percent tested positive. The rate takes into account people who have been tested multiple times in that seven-day period.

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.

According to DHS, 1,152,025 doses of coronavirus vaccine have been allocated to Wisconsin by the federal government as of Tuesday, while 793,474 doses have been administered and 174,482 people have received both shots, completing the vaccination series.

A graph showing the daily number of vaccinations across the state remained steady with the second highest daily total recorded on Feb. 3 when 45,873 shots were administered. DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said Wisconsin is getting a “little bit” more vaccine from the federal government, rising from roughly 72,000 doses to 89,000 doses weekly. The state estimates it needs 7 million doses to vaccinate all the adults who eventually will be eligible for a shot when supplies increase.

According to the Wisconsin Hospital Association, there were 572 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Monday. A total of 25,021 people have been hospitalized because of the disease, or 4.5 percent of all positive cases.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 551,050, according to DHS. A total of 6,094 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 the state had no counties with a “critically high” level of COVID-19 activity. Twenty-four counties were listed as having a “very high” level of activity and 48 counties had a “high” level of activity. The number of Wisconsin counties at a “critically high” and “very high” level of COVID-19 activity has been decreasing. Wisconsin’s overall level was downgraded to “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, three of Wisconsin’s regions — northwest, north central and western — had “very high” levels of activity and were seeing “shrinking” levels or “no significant change” of COVID-19 activity, according to DHS. The state’s four other regions had a “high” level of activity.

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 59,197 as of Tuesday. The number of actual people with new test results reported Tuesday was 4,168.

Throughout the course of the pandemic, 3,092,634 COVID-19 tests have been administered. Of those, 2,541,584 tests have been negative.