Wisconsin Sees Record High 964 Daily New COVID-19 Cases

Tuesday Record Marks Fourth Time In A Week That Daily Case Numbers Have Broken Records

A health care worker signs people up for testing at a COVID-19 testing site at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
A health care worker signs people up for testing at a COVID-19 testing site at the Miami Beach Convention Center, during the coronavirus pandemic, Monday, July 13, 2020, in Miami Beach, Fla. Lynne Sladky/AP Photo

The number of Wisconsin’s new daily COVID-19 cases is at an all-time high, marking the fourth time in a week that daily case numbers have broken records.

DHS reported 964 new cases of the virus on Tuesday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 764 daily cases.

One week ago, the average was 557 COVID-19 daily cases. The week before that, the average was 475 daily cases.

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The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 37,906, according to DHS. A total of 826 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19, with six new deaths reported on Tuesday.

In a briefing Tuesday, DHS Secretary Andrea Palm cautioned Wisconsinites to look at states where cases are surging like Florida and Arizona, as warning signs.

“I do think people should take very seriously the cautions and the learnings that we’re getting from these other states,” Palm said. “If we wait until we are in that situation we will have waited too long, and so now really is the time to double down on our work together.”

According to DHS, 6.6 percent of all test results reported on Tuesday were positive for COVID-19, bringing the average percentage of positive tests over the past seven days to 7.1. The seven-day average a week ago was 6.9 percent. One month ago, the average rate of positive tests was 2.7 percent.

The percentage of positive tests 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 24,362 as of Tuesday. The number of actual tests reported on Tuesday was 14,680.

Overall, DHS has recorded a total of 711,101 tests over the course of the pandemic; 673,195 have come back 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 47 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 July 8, counties with the highest case rates per capita included Dane, Milwaukee and Trempealeau. The counties with the most significant upward trends included Marquette, Monroe and Sheboygan.

There have been confirmed cases in all 72 of Wisconsin’s counties, although according to the data from last Wednesday, four counties had not reported any new cases over a two-week period.


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 does not currently meet either of those criteria.

According to DHS, 3,892 people have been hospitalized because of the virus as of Tuesday. That means at least 10.3 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 12,354 people, or 33 percent.