Wisconsin’s Coronavirus Outbreak Rages On With No Sign Of Slowing

DHS Reports 4,360 New COVID-19 Cases, 17 New Deaths Monday

a woman in a face mask presses a nail onto another woman's hands
Phuong Nguyen, left, owner of LA Nails in Watertown, gives customer Rhonda VanLoo, right, a manicure Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. Angela Major/WPR

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

DHS reported 4,360 new cases of the disease Monday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 5,639 daily cases. Daily new cases have been rising since early September, when the average was less than 700. It’s typical for DHS to report lower numbers of COVID-19 cases Mondays.

There were 17 new deaths from COVID-19 reported Monday. On Monday, 9,717 tested negative.

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Thirty-five 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.

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 17.5 percent.

According to DHS, there were 1,860 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Sunday. A total of 12,939 people have been hospitalized because of the disease, or 4.8 percent of all positive cases.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 271,770, according to DHS. A total of 2,329 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19.

COVID-19 activity varies from county to county. The latest activity data from DHS, released Wednesday, showed all 72 counties in Wisconsin had a “very high level” of COVID-19 activity.

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 last week, the north-central region of the state had the most new cases per capita, while western Wisconsin 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 59,155 as of Monday. The number of actual people with new test results reported Monday was 14,077.

A total of 2,198,288 people have been tested over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 1,926,518 have tested negative.