New reports of COVID-19 cases dipped slightly on Sunday after three days of record levels in Wisconsin, based on the latest data published by the state’s Department of Health Services.
DHS reported 769 new cases of the virus on Sunday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 695 daily cases. One week ago, the average was 548 daily cases.
Daily new cases had been rising since Monday, when the average was 572. Sunday’s new case total doesn’t represent a new daily record for Wisconsin. New daily records for new cases had been set on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, respectively. There were 926 new cases reported on Saturday.
The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 36,448, according to the DHS. A total of 820 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19, with no new deaths reported Sunday.
According to DHS, 10.1% of all test results reported on Sunday were positive for COVID-19, bringing the average percentage of positive tests over the past seven days to 7%. That figure was about 8% on Saturday. It had been rising since July 7, when the average was 3.9%.
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 Sunday. The number of actual tests reported on Sunday was 7,617.
Overall, DHS has recorded a total of 689,800 over the course of the pandemic. 653,352 have come back negative.
The DHS website says that “multiple tests per person are not included in these summary statistics.”
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 DHS, four counties have had no new cases over the past two weeks.
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. The state does not currently meet either of those criteria.
According to DHS, 3,824 people have been hospitalized because of the virus as of Sunday. That means at least 10% of people who have tested positive for the new coronavirus in the state have been hospitalized.
Of the 36,448 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the outbreak, DHS reports that 28,318, or 78%, have recovered.