Wisconsin’s COVID-19 Cases Remain Near All-Time Highs

Evers: 'One Dinner Party Or One Wedding Can Lead To Weeks Of Recovery'

vehicles can be seen side-by-side as test technicians do various tasks
Vehicles are stopped in several lanes as drivers get 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 remain near the all-time highs recorded last week in Wisconsin, based on the latest data published by the state Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 2,020 new cases of the disease Tuesday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 2,346 daily cases. Daily new cases have been on a sharp incline since late August.

There were 18 new deaths from COVID-19 reported Tuesday, leaving the seven-day average of COVID-19 deaths at a record high 14 per day.

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On Tuesday, 9,539 people reported their first negative test.

The latest numbers come as Gov. Tony Evers and DHS Secretary Andrea Palm unveiled a new statewide emergency order Tuesday, limiting the size of public indoor gatherings to 25 percent capacity. The order takes effect at 8 a.m. Thursday, and is set to expire on Nov. 6.

“We see how one case can turn into 12 in the blink of an eye,” Evers said during a press briefing with reporters. “How one dinner party or one wedding can lead to weeks of recovery. And how our economy, our communities, and our state go backward every time one person or group disregards public health measures.”

Seventeen percent of people who got tested for COVID-19 over the past week were positive for the disease, according to DHS. That rate has ticked slightly down over the last week from an all-time high of 17.5 percent last Friday.

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 9.0 percent.

According to DHS, there were 108 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Tuesday. A total of 7,810 people have been hospitalized because of the disease, or 5.7 percent of all positive cases.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 136,379, according to DHS. A total of 1,399 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19.

COVID-19 activity varies heavily from county to county. The latest activity data from DHS, released Wednesday, showed 45 counties had a “very high level” of COVID-19 activity, and the rest had a “high” level of activity. 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.

As of last Wednesday, the Fox Valley region of the state had the most new cases per capita over the previous two weeks, while the North Central region 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 39,234 as of Tuesday. The number of actual people with new test results reported Tuesday was 11,559.

A total of 1,618,495 people have been tested over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 1,482,116 have tested negative.