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Wisconsin’s coronavirus surge: 22% of tests positive, death toll reaches 1,300

7-day and 14-day averages for new cases reached new highs and county health departments are getting overwhelmed
Published: Sep. 29, 2020 at 1:57 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2020 at 4:20 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) – Wisconsin is just shy of a total 120,000 coronavirus cases (119,955) as the COVID-19 death toll reached 1,300 in the state Tuesday. That’s 2,367 new cases and 17 more deaths reported than Monday.

Wisconsin added 20,000 cases in 10 days. Wisconsin is averaging an all-time high of 2,255 new cases a day for the past 7 days and, for the first time, a 14-day average over 2,000 cases a day as well (2,047).

The number of deaths is the most added to the state in one day since late May, when there were 22 deaths on May 27 and 20 deaths on May 30. The number of new cases continues to outpace deaths, bringing the death rate down slightly to 1.08%.

Deaths were reported in Calumet, Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Forest (2), Kenosha (2), Kenosha (2), Monroe, Portage (2), Waukesha (2) and Winnebago counties. It was the first COVID-19 death in Vernon County.

The state received 10,764 test results for Tuesday’s report. 21.99% of tests were positive for the virus, making it the fourth day in a row the positivity rate was over 20%. New cases were reported in 70 of the 72 counties, with Langlade and Pepin being the exceptions.

With so many positive tests coming back, active cases now represent almost 17% (16.9%) of cases going back to February. There are 20,252 active patients and 98,385 who are considered recovered.

In a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Health Secretary Andrea Palm said the surge among 18- to 24-year-olds as this age group went back to college has subsided. She said the infection rate among that age group has gone down, but not among other age groups.

She also asked people who test positive to pick up calls from contact tracers and answer questions as thoroughly as possible.

Door County Public Health announced it can’t keep up with contact tracing during a surge in coronavirus cases there, which has delayed testing and notifying people who test positive. Both Manitowoc and Door County health departments are now asking people who test positive to reach out to the direct contacts themselves and advise them to quarantine until the 14th day from their last contact. In the state news conference, Dr. Ryan Westergaard indicated other counties are also overwhelmed, which is affecting the counties’ ability to identify the source of outbreaks.

Gov. Tony Evers warned the pandemic in Wisconsin “is not slowing down, it’s picking up speed. It’s time to put the brakes on the pandemic.” He warned people against going about their day like it’s September, 2019.

To avoid anymore setbacks to the economy, he urged people to take the virus seriously and wear masks but added, “Wearing a mask is not a substitute for social distancing and staying at home.”

He also thanked people who’ve canceled parties, missed gatherings, and put the safety and well-being of their neighbors and community first.

[CLICK HERE to find a community testing site]

Tuesday, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported 646 patients are hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment, with 205 in ICU. That’s 32 more COVID-19 patients in ICU than Monday, and The Associated Press reports 646 patients is an all-time high. In the 8-county Fox Valley Region there are 110 COVID-19 patients with 12 in ICU, and 15% of beds are available, an improvement from Monday’s 15%. The 7-county Northeast Region has 89 patients, 26 in ICU, with 26% of beds available.

The hospitalization rate for all coronavirus cases declined to 6% -- a metric we’ve seen steadily go down.

The surge in positive cases and slowdown in deaths can be attributed to better treatments but even more to the virus spreading among young adults. They’re less likely to suffer the serious symptoms of the coronavirus that require hospitalization -- in fact, may show no symptoms at all -- but can still spread the virus to others and to vulnerable populations, as we’ve seen with the increasing daily numbers of COVID-19 patients in hospitals.

As you can see in the chart below, based on Monday’s state numbers, only 1 in 50 people in their 20s infected with the coronavirus was ever hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment compared to 1 in 4 people in their 70s and 1 in 3 people 80 or older.

Age groupTotal
(% of all cases)
Ever hospitalized
(% of cases among age group)
Deaths
0-93,764 (3%)68 (2%)0
10-1915,109 (13%)138 (1%)0
20-2929,951 (25%)485 (2%)9
30-3917,852 (15%)580 (3%)17
40-4915,510 (13%)737 (5%)38
50-5916,099 (14%)1,078 (7%)86
60-6910,488 (9%)1,421 (14%)213
70-795,366 (5%)1,384 (26%)329
80-892,578 (2%)953 (37%)368
90+911 (1%)298 (33%)223

Health experts say face masks are still the most effective way the general public can slow the spread of the coronavirus, but only if the masks are worn appropriately -- over the nose and chin.

County and state health officials are reminding and urging people to stay home when they feel sick, avoid large gatherings, and distance yourself six feet from people who aren’t from your household.

To help people understand how their decisions affect their own health and others, the Department of Health Services has a decision tool at https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/decision.htm. The tool describes how choices matter and offers suggestions to make activities safer.

TUESDAY’S CASE NUMBERS (counties with additional cases and/or deaths are indicated in bold)

Wisconsin

  • Adams - 255 cases (+2) (4 deaths)
  • Ashland - 122 cases (+12) (2 deaths)
  • Barron - 482 cases (+4) (5 deaths)
  • Bayfield - 113 cases (+8) (1 death)
  • Brown - 9,223 cases (+238) (63 deaths)
  • Buffalo - 141 cases (+1) (2 deaths)
  • Burnett - 199 cases (+5) (3 deaths)
  • Calumet - 1,236 cases (+53) (4 deaths) (+1)
  • Chippewa - 567 cases (+12)
  • Clark – 407 cases (+5) (8 deaths)
  • Columbia - 657 cases (+12) (3 deaths) (+1)
  • Crawford – 173 cases (+5)
  • Dane – 9,857 cases (+94) (42 deaths) (+1)
  • Dodge – 1,931 cases (+47) (17 deaths) (+1)
  • Door - 354 cases (+14) (3 deaths)
  • Douglas - 493 cases (+4)
  • Dunn - 593 cases (+37)
  • Eau Claire - 1,969 cases (+29) (6 deaths)
  • Florence - 96 cases (+2) (2 deaths)
  • Fond du Lac – 2,171 cases (+50) (14 deaths) (+1)
  • Forest - 289 cases (+15) (6 deaths) (+2)
  • Grant – 1,030 cases (+14) (19 deaths)
  • Green - 536 cases (+10) (3 deaths)
  • Green Lake - 296 cases (+10)
  • Iowa - 187 cases (+1)
  • Iron - 143 cases (+1) (1 death)
  • Jackson - 152 cases (+2) (1 death)
  • Jefferson - 1,486 cases (+56) (8 deaths)
  • Juneau - 388 cases (+6) (2 deaths)
  • Kenosha - 3,549 cases (+27) (67 deaths) (+2)
  • Kewaunee - 585 cases (+45) (2 deaths)
  • La Crosse – 3,095 cases (+40) (2 deaths)
  • Lafayette - 299 cases (+10)
  • Langlade - 198 cases (2 deaths)
  • Lincoln - 234 cases (+5) (1 death)
  • Manitowoc – 1,170 cases (+65) (3 deaths)
  • Marathon - 1,458 cases (+24) (14 deaths)
  • Marinette - 976 cases (+32) (8 deaths)
  • Marquette - 281 cases (+10) (1 death)
  • Menominee - 81 cases (+7)
  • Milwaukee – 28,934 (+242) (529 deaths)
  • Monroe - 549 cases (+9) (3 deaths) (+1)
  • Oconto - 916 cases (+35) (4 deaths)
  • Oneida - 461 cases (+12) (2 deaths)
  • Outagamie – 4,760 cases (+154) (29 deaths)
  • Ozaukee - 1,385 cases (+30) (19 deaths)
  • Pepin – 67 cases
  • Pierce – 448 cases (+6) (7 deaths)
  • Polk – 250 cases (+2) (2 deaths)
  • Portage - 1,481 cases (+17) (6 deaths) (+2)
  • Price - 118 cases (+8)
  • Racine - 4,947 cases (+39) (95 deaths)
  • Richland - 141 cases (+7) (4 deaths)
  • Rock – 2,601 cases (+28) (32 deaths)
  • Rusk - 64 cases (+2) (1 death)
  • Sauk - 928 cases (+21) (3 deaths)
  • Sawyer - 219 cases (+5) (1 death)
  • Shawano – 968 cases (+46) (1 death)
  • Sheboygan - 1,710 cases (+116) (16 deaths)
  • St. Croix - 947 cases (+13) (8 deaths)
  • Taylor - 194 cases (+3) (4 deaths)
  • Trempealeau - 656 cases (+22) (2 deaths)
  • Vernon - 238 cases (+4) (1 death) (+1)
  • Vilas - 227 cases (+10) (1 death)
  • Walworth - 2,618 cases (+34) (35 deaths)
  • Washburn – 113 cases (+6) (1 death)
  • Washington - 2,662 cases (+58) (32 deaths)
  • Waukesha - 7,529 cases (+167) (89 deaths) (+2)
  • Waupaca – 1,092 cases (+27) (20 deaths)
  • Waushara - 372 cases (+14) (2 deaths)
  • Winnebago – 4,057 cases (+248) (27 deaths) (+1)
  • Wood - 831 cases (+2) (5 deaths)

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (

  • Alger - 17 cases
  • Baraga - 26 cases (+4) (2 deaths) (+1)
  • Chippewa - 50 cases
  • Delta – 435 cases (+16) (8 deaths)
  • Dickinson – 156 cases (+16) (2 deaths)
  • Gogebic - 151 cases (+3) (1 death)
  • Houghton – 441 cases (+26) (1 death)
  • Iron – 193 cases (+18) (2 deaths)
  • Keweenaw – 8 cases (revised -2 by state)
  • Luce – 12 cases
  • Mackinac - 44 cases (+2)
  • Marquette - 327 cases (+8) (12 deaths)
  • Menominee - 350 cases (+8) (2 deaths) (+1)
  • Ontonagon – 41 cases
  • Schoolcraft - 27 cases (+2)

*The State of Michigan says it will only report county case numbers Monday-Saturday. State health officials say weekend data are often erratic and generally lower than other days due to reduced testing and lab staffing.

Symptoms

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified these as possible symptoms of COVID-19:

  • Fever of 100.4 or higher
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

Prevention

  • The coronavirus is a new, or “novel,” virus. Nobody has a natural immunity to it. Children and teens seem to recover best from the virus. Older people and those with underlying health conditions (heart disease, diabetes, lung disease) are considered at high risk, according to the CDC. Precautions are also needed around people with developing or weakened immune systems.
  • To help prevent the spread of the virus:
  • Stay at least six feet away from other people
  • Avoid close contact with people who are or appear sick
  • Stay at home as much as possible
  • Cancel events and avoid groups, gatherings, play dates and nonessential appointments
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care
  • Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a mask. At a minimum, use a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.

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