Wisconsin Sets New Daily Record With 2,034 Coronavirus Cases Reported Thursday

Percentage Of Positive Test Results Jumps To 18 Percent

two people pass by on bikes. a window behind them explains a requirement for face masks in sharp white text.
Bicyclists ride past a message on a window about face mask requirements Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, at UW-Madison. Angela Major/WPR

Wisconsin logged another record-setting day Thursday for new daily reports of COVID-19 cases, according to the latest data published by the state’s Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 2,034 new cases of the virus Thursday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 1,409 daily cases. One week ago, the average was 1,004 daily cases.

Thursday’s new case total is the highest that figure has been since Sunday, when there were 1,582 new cases, which set a new daily record at the time.

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The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 94,746, according to the DHS. A total of 1,231 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19, with three new deaths reported on Thursday.

According to DHS, 18 percent of all test results reported Thursday were positive for COVID-19, bringing the overall percentage of positive tests over the past seven days to 14 percent. That figure has been holding steady since Tuesday.

The percentage of positive cases 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 the virus. 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 38,563 as of Thursday. The number of actual people with test results reported on Thursday was 11,445.

Overall, DHS has recorded a total of 1,399,470 people’s test results over the course of the pandemic. 1,304,724 have tested 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 71 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 Wednesday, counties with the highest case rates per capita included La Crosse, Outagamie, Florence and Walworth. The counties with the most significant upward trends included Jackson, La Crosse and Langlade.

There have been confirmed cases in all 72 of Wisconsin’s counties, and every Wisconsin county reported at least one new case over the preceding week.


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, 6,522 people have been hospitalized because of the virus as of Thursday. That means at least 7 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 33,275 people, or 35 percent.