Wisconsin Tops 2,000 COVID-19 Cases For Third Straight Day

State Sees Records In 7-Day Average Of Daily Cases, 7-Day Average Percentage Of Positive Tests

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People line up behind a health care worker at a mobile Coronavirus testing site
People line up behind a health care worker at a mobile Coronavirus testing site at the Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles. A technical problem has caused a lag in California’s tally of coronavirus test results, casting doubt on the accuracy of recent data showing improvements in the infection rate and number of positive cases, and hindering efforts to track the spread, the state’s top health official said Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020. Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

New reports of COVID-19 cases remained high in Wisconsin Saturday, topping 2,000 cases for the third straight day according to data published by the state’s Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 2,283 new cases of the virus, bringing the average for the past seven days to 1,708 daily cases, the highest weekly average since the pandemic began. Just one week ago, the seven-day average was 1,043 daily cases.

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The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 99,562, according to the DHS. A total of 1,241 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19, with three new deaths reported on Saturday.

According to DHS, 18.3 percent of all test results reported on Saturday were positive for COVID-19, bringing the overall percentage of positive tests over the past seven days to 16.4 percent, a new high. The weekly average percentage of positive cases has been rising sharply since early September.

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 Saturday. The number of actual people with test results reported on Saturday was 12,472.

Overall, DHS has recorded a total of 1,425,009 people’s test results over the course of the pandemic. 1,325,447 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.

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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. Wisconsin currently meets neither of those criteria.

According to DHS, 6,619 people have been hospitalized because of the virus as of Saturday. That means at least seven 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 35,729 people, or 36 percent.

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