Wisconsin Surpasses 1K COVID-19 Deaths In January

New Disease Infections Continue To Decline

Several healthcare workers perform different tasks in a hospital hallway
Healthcare workers pass through the hallway of a COVID-19 unit Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, at UW Hospital. Angela Major/WPR

New reports of COVID-19 cases are on the decline in Wisconsin, based on the latest data published by the state Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 1,567 new cases of the disease Friday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 1,392 daily cases, the lowest it has been since mid-September. One week ago, the average was 1,702 daily cases.

There were 49 new deaths from COVID-19 reported Friday. On Friday, 5,373 tested negative.

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Of the people tested for COVID-19 over the past week, 19.3 percent were positive for the disease, according to DHS. That rate has been declining for about three weeks.

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.

DHS also tracks the percentage of tests that are positive, instead of the percentage of people who get a positive result. The metric takes into account people who have been tested multiple times. The seven-day average for that number is 5.4 percent.

According to DHS, 846,300 doses of coronavirus vaccine have been allocated to the state by the federal government as of Tuesday, an increase of 66,500 from a week ago. Currently, 476,855 doses of the vaccines have been administered, and 90,668 people have received both shots, completing the vaccination series.

A graph showing the daily number of vaccinations across the state has seen a steady increase in doses administered since the beginning of 2021 — although doses administered dip on weekends and doses administered tend to be lower on Mondays compared to other weekdays. There was a sharp increase in administered vaccines between Tuesday and Wednesday, jumping from 26,138 to 35,146, and dipping slightly from Thursday to Friday. Preliminary data since Dec. 15 shows the number of vaccinations mostly increasing.

According to the Wisconsin Hospital Association, there were 718 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Thursday. A total of 24,154 people have been hospitalized because of the disease, or 4.5 percent of all positive cases.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 539,915, according to DHS. A total of 5,860 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19, with 1,001 deaths in January alone.

COVID-19 activity varies from county to county. The latest activity data from DHS, released Wednesday, showed the state had moved to having no counties with a “critically high” level of COVID-19 activity. Forty-seven counties were listed as having a “very high” level of activity and 25 counties had a “high” level of activity. The number of Wisconsin counties at a “critically high” and “very high” level of COVID-19 activity has been decreasing. Wisconsin’s overall level is “very high.”

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, all seven of Wisconsin’s regions had “very high” levels of activity and were seeing “shrinking” levels or “no significant change” of COVID-19 activity, according to DHS.

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 59,275 as of Friday. The number of actual people with new test results reported Friday was 6,940.

A total of 3,038,432 have been tested over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 2,498,517 have tested negative.