Wisconsin Marks Independence Day With Single Day Record Of 738 New Cases

Wisconsin's Rate Of Positive Tests Nearly Double In The Last Day

Marvin Turcios puts out American flags at Ocean's 10 restaurant on Miami Beach, Florida
Marvin Turcios puts out American flags at Ocean’s 10 restaurant on Miami Beach, Florida’s famed Ocean Drive on South Beach, July 4, 2020. The Fourth of July holiday weekend began Saturday with some sobering numbers in the Sunshine State: Florida logged a record number of people testing positive for the coronavirus. Wilfredo Lee/AP Photo

New reports of COVID-19 increased in Wisconsin on Saturday, based on the latest data published by the state Department of Health Services. DHS reported 738 new cases of the virus on Saturday, setting a one-day record for the most number of new cases since reporting began in March.

The second-highest number of cases in a single day occurred on May 29 when 733 cases were reported. The average number of cases for the past seven days was 538 daily cases. One week ago, the average was 392 daily cases.

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The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 31,055, according to the DHS. A total of 796 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19, with no new deaths reported on Saturday.

According to DHS, 10.8 percent of all test results reported on Saturday were positive for COVID-19, bringing the average percentage of positive tests over the past seven days to 6 percent. The seven-day average a week ago was 4.4 percent.

The percentage of positive tests is often read by public health officials as a measure of testing capacity. A high rate could indicate that testing in the state is limited, and skewed toward those already flagged as potential carriers. 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 19,014 as of Saturday. The number of actual tests reported on Saturday was 6,084.

Overall, DHS has recorded a total of 610,692 tests over the course of the pandemic. There are 579,637 tests that have come back 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 36 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 July 1, counties with the highest case rates per capita included La Crosse, Milwaukee, Lafayette and Dane. The counties with the most significant upward trends included Walworth, Eau Claire and Ozaukee.

All 72 of Wisconsin’s counties have had confirmed cases, although in the latest COVID-19 activity data, four counties had no new cases over a two-week period.

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. The state does not currently meet either of those criteria.

According to DHS, 3,574 people have been hospitalized because of the virus as of Saturday. That means at least 11.5 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 9,431 people, or 30 percent.