Wisconsin Reports More Than 6,000 New COVID-19 Cases, Setting Another Record

State Averaging 5,139 New Cases A Day Over Past Week

A man in a face shield and mask hods up a phone to a driver's phone as he manages a line of cars
A worker wears a mask and face shield as he helps people prepare to be tested for COVID-19 on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison. Angela Major/WPR

New reports of COVID-19 cases are on the rise, averaging at around 5,000 cases per day in Wisconsin, based on the latest data published by the state Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 6,141 new cases of the disease Friday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 5,139 daily cases. Friday’s new case total is the highest that figure has ever been, and is the third record-setting case count in the last four days.

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There were 62 new deaths from COVID-19 reported Friday. On Friday, 14,644 tested negative.

Thirty-three percent of people who got tested for COVID-19 over the past week were positive for the disease, according to DHS. That rate has been on the rise for the past 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 16.8 percent.

According to DHS, there were 1,774 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Thursday. A total of 12,554 people have been hospitalized because of the disease, or 4.9 percent of all positive cases.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 256,065, according to DHS. A total of 2,256 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19.

COVID-19 activity varies heavily from county to county. In a media briefing on Wednesday, the DHS said that all 72 counties have a “very high level” of COVID-19 activity, based on the latest two weeks of data. 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.

According to data published Wednesday by the DHS, the North Central region of the state had the most new cases per capita over the previous two weeks. The western part of the state saw cases growing the fastest.

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 59,150 as of Friday. The number of actual people with new test results reported Friday was 20,785.

A total of 2,152,522 people have been tested over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 1,896,457 have tested negative.