Wisconsin Passes 2,000 Deaths From COVID-19

DHS Reports Record Number Of New Coronavirus Cases

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two volunteers carry boxes of food
Volunteers Astrid Torres, right, and Katrina Collins, left, load boxes of food into a van Tuesday, Aug 4, 2020, at Westside Elementary School in Sun Prairie, Wis. The group distributed food for 50 households in 23 minutes. Angela Major/WPR

More than 2,000 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19, based on the latest data published by the state Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 5,278 new cases of the disease Saturday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 4,404 daily cases. Saturday’s new case total is the highest that figure has been since the start of the pandemic — breaking the previous single-day record set on Tuesday.

There were 59 new deaths from COVID-19 reported Saturday. On Saturday, 9,575 people tested negative.

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During a press briefing Friday, Gov. Tony Evers called on Wisconsinites to forgo traditional Halloween celebrations and avoid gatherings with people outside their immediate households.

“The choices you make every day could be the difference between preventing a hospitalization or even saving a life,” he said. “In the spring, our efforts to stay home saved lives, and we are in a far different and more dire situation now than we were then.”

About 28.8 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 and has been rising since the beginning of the month.

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 14.7 percent.

According to DHS, there were 1,546 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Friday. A total of 11,374 people have been hospitalized because of the disease, or 5 percent of all positive cases.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 225,370, according to DHS. A total of 2,031 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19.

COVID-19 activity varies heavily from county to county. According to the latest data DHS released Wednesday, 70 counties in Wisconsin had a “very high” level of COVID-19 activity, an increase of two counties since last week and just two counties shy of every county in the state experiencing the highest level of disease activity.

The remaining two — Douglas and Vernon 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.

As of Wednesday, the state’s Fox Valley region continued to have the most new cases per capita over the previous two weeks. The state’s northwest 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 42,474 as of Saturday. The number of actual people with new test results reported Saturday was 14,853.

A total of 2,052,006 people have been tested over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 1,826,636 people have tested negative.

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