Wisconsin COVID-19 Deaths Top 1,700

State Averaging More Than 3,000 Daily Cases Over The Past Week

A sign hangs on a glass door explaining COVID-19 safety to those who enter
A sign hangs on the door of a building on UW-Madison’s campus advising those who enter to follow safety precautions. Angela Major/WPR

New reports of COVID-19 cases are holding steady at a very high level in Wisconsin, based on the latest data published by the state Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 3,413 new cases of the disease Thursday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 3,396 daily cases. Daily new cases have been rising since early September, when the average was below 700.

There were 22 new deaths from COVID-19 reported Thursday; 12,082 tested negative. On Tuesday, DHS secretary Andrea Palm said last weekend’s scheduled outage of the data reporting system would affect the numbers for several days, so some cases reported today may be a result of a backlog over the weekend.

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Twenty-three 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 12.2 percent.

According to DHS, there were 1,190 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Wednesday. A total of 9,855 people have been hospitalized because of the disease, or 5.3 percent of all positive cases.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 186,100, according to DHS. A total of 1,703 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19.

COVID-19 activity varies heavily from county to county. The latest activity data from DHS, released Wednesday, showed 68 counties had a “very high level” of COVID-19 activity, an increase of 11 from last week’s report. The rest — Burnett, Douglas, Pierce and Polk counties — had a “high” level of activity.

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.

In the latest data, the state’s Fox Valley region continued to have the most new cases per capita over the previous two weeks. The state’s Southeast 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 42,456 as of Thursday. The number of actual people with new test results reported Thursday was 15,495.

A total of 1,916,746 have been tested over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 1,730,646 have tested negative.