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Record-shattering 4,591 coronavirus cases as state catches up on reporting; record 218 COVID-19 hospitalizations

33 people were added to the state’s death toll, shy of the one-day record of 34
Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 2:06 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 20, 2020 at 4:08 PM CDT
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clarification: Updated to include a notice from the Department of Health Services that it's working through a backlog of positive test results after this weekend's system upgrades.

MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - The Wisconsin Department of Health Services cautions that it’s working through a backlog of positive test results after state system upgrades over the weekend, resulting in a high number of newly reported coronavirus cases and extremely high positivity rate.

We’ll need to put an asterisk next to the record-shattering numbers reported Tuesday when 4,591 new cases were added in the past 24 hours. That’s 33.61% of the 13,661 tests received -- 1 in 3 coming back positive -- which also shatters the positivity record for any day with more than 10,000 tests. In fact, the only positivity rate we could find that was higher was on March 14, when the state reported a total of 8 tests and all of them were positive.

The DHS says negative test results could still be uploaded to its reporting system over the weekend but not positive tests; these are only being imported into the system now that the system updates are completed. The state emphasizes the 7-day rolling averages are a more accurate representation of the state’s COVID-19 situation while it works through the backlog of data for the next few days.

Based on the state’s last 7 reports, Wisconsin is adding an average 3,424 new coronavirus cases per day. The positivity rate’s 7-day average is up to 21.7%, an all-time high in the state’s reporting.

The death toll rose 33 to 1,633. That’s shy of the one-day record of 34 deaths set exactly one week ago. Six deaths were added to Shawano County’s death toll. Five were added in Marathon County. Deaths were also reported in Brown, Calumet, Chippewa, Eau Claire (2), Grant (2), Kewaunee, Langlade, Marinette, Milwaukee, Oconto, Outagamie (2), Racine, Rock, Washington, Waupaca (3) and Winnebago (2). After the state’s report was issued, the Appleton Health Department reported two more people died -- one in their 70s, the other in their 80s, both from Outagamie County.

The death rate slipped again. It’s now 0.91% of all coronavirus cases despite a death toll in the double digits in the sixth consecutive state COVID-19 report (we don’t have death statistics for Saturday or Sunday because the state’s reporting system was down for upgrades over the weekend).

The DHS reports 218 more people were hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment in the last 24 hours, shattering the record of 165 patients the day before. We’re now averaging about 130 hospitalizations a day for COVID-19. The state says more than 1 in 20 people who test positive were hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The percentage of hospitalizations is down slightly, from 5.4% of all cases Monday to 5.3% on Tuesday.

The percentage of active cases rose again and is now almost 21% of all cases (20.9%) that were diagnosed in the past 30 days and haven’t been medically cleared. That’s 37,358 people in the state right now who are considered an active case. There are 139,455 people who are considered recovered.

A surge in the summer was attributed to more people in their 20s and 30s getting together and spreading the disease. These are age groups less likely to feel the severe effects of the coronavirus and more likely to be asymptomatic carriers than older adults. And now we’re seeing the virus more among older adults.

Age group% of total cases
on September 18
% of total cases
on October 19
20-2926%23%
30-3915%15%
40-4913%14%
50-5914%15%
60-699%10%

On Monday, the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) reported a record 1,192 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized, including a record 315 in intensive care. Changes in these daily numbers take deaths and hospital discharges into account. Statewide, 13.6% of ICU beds and 16.4% of all medical beds are open. Prevea CEO/president Dr. Ashok Rai cautioned on Action 2 News This Morning last week that an open bed isn’t necessarily an available bed if the hospital doesn’t have the staffing to support a patient in it (see related story).

In the 13 hospitals in the 8-county Fox Valley region, there are 138 COVID-19 patients, with 18 in ICU. The WHA says 16 beds in intensive care (15.4%) and 15.5% of all medical beds are open. The 10 hospitals in the 7-county Northeast region are caring for 173 COVID-19 patients, 53 in ICU. There are 22 beds in intensive care (10.6%) and 19.4% of all medical beds that are available.

Action 2 News will continue to emphasize the state’s summary statistics counting each person once no matter how many times they’re tested. This is the standard method used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its federal reporting and is a better indication of the spread of the coronavirus in a community. For data that counts all of the results for people tested multiple times, visit the DHS website. Even by that measure, the positivity rate has been climbing for two weeks and is the 7-day average is at an all-time high of 12%.

New cases were reported in 71 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. The exception was Rusk County, where the case numbers were revised downward.

TUESDAY’S COUNTY CASE NUMBERS (counties with new cases are indicated in bold)

Wisconsin

  • Adams - 414 cases (+14) (4 deaths)
  • Ashland - 239 cases (+5) (3 deaths)
  • Barron - 827 cases (+24) (6 deaths)
  • Bayfield - 184 cases (+8) (1 death)
  • Brown - 13,415 cases (+164) (86 deaths) (+1)
  • Buffalo - 213 cases (+5) (2 deaths)
  • Burnett - 277 cases (+8) (6 deaths)
  • Calumet - 2,327 cases (+52) (11 deaths) (+1)
  • Chippewa - 1,130 cases (+6) (5 deaths) (+1)
  • Clark – 685 cases (+12) (12 deaths)
  • Columbia – 1,504 cases (+40) (4 deaths)
  • Crawford – 297 cases (+1)
  • Dane – 12,821 cases (+305) (46 deaths)
  • Dodge – 3,150 cases (+100) (22 deaths)
  • Door - 651 cases (+28) (4 deaths)
  • Douglas - 701 cases (+5) (1 death)
  • Dunn - 884 cases (+27) (1 death)
  • Eau Claire - 2,736 cases (+62) (11 deaths) (+2)
  • Florence - 172 cases (+14) (4 deaths)
  • Fond du Lac – 3,688 cases (+145) (17 deaths)
  • Forest - 401 cases (+3) (10 deaths)
  • Grant – 1,623 cases (+24) (25 deaths) (+2)
  • Green - 828 cases (+12) (4 deaths)
  • Green Lake - 618 cases (+4) (2 deaths)
  • Iowa - 385 cases (+13) (1 death)
  • Iron - 170 cases (+6) (1 death)
  • Jackson - 299 cases (+19) (1 death)
  • Jefferson - 2,308 cases (+104) (9 deaths)
  • Juneau - 675 cases (+54) (4 deaths)
  • Kenosha – 4,479 cases (+51) (71 deaths)
  • Kewaunee - 937 cases (+12) (5 deaths) (+1)
  • La Crosse – 3,868 cases (+51) (15 deaths)
  • Lafayette - 466 case (+8) (1 death)
  • Langlade - 704 cases (+26) (8 deaths) (+1)
  • Lincoln - 603 cases (+5) (5 deaths)
  • Manitowoc – 2,258 cases (+107) (7 deaths)
  • Marathon - 3,531 cases (+155) (38 deaths) (+5)
  • Marinette - 1,478 cases (+59) (11 deaths) (+1)
  • Marquette - 528 cases (+11) (2 deaths)
  • Menominee - 239 cases (+20)
  • Milwaukee – 36,059 (+824) (557 deaths) (+1)
  • Monroe - 960 cases (+11) (3 deaths)
  • Oconto - 1,817 cases (+66) (8 deaths) (+1)
  • Oneida - 967 cases (+28) (6 deaths)
  • Outagamie – 8,026 cases (293) (51 deaths) (+2)
  • Ozaukee - 1,939 cases (+93) (23 deaths)
  • Pepin – 93 cases (+1)
  • Pierce – 612 cases (+19) (7 deaths)
  • Polk – 419 cases (+18) (2 deaths)
  • Portage - 2,331 cases (57) (17 deaths)
  • Price - 293 cases (+9)
  • Racine - 6,454 cases (163) (102 deaths) (+1)
  • Richland - 390 cases (+20) (6 deaths)
  • Rock – 4,191 cases (+85) (39 deaths) (+1)
  • Rusk - 152 cases (1 death) (cases revised -1 by state)
  • Sauk – 1,485 cases (+32) (6 deaths)
  • Sawyer - 349 cases (+7) (1 death)
  • Shawano – 1,998 cases (+75) (14 deaths) (+6)
  • Sheboygan - 3,839 cases (+223) (20 deaths)
  • St. Croix - 1,467 cases (+44) (9 deaths)
  • Taylor - 382 cases (+21) (6 deaths)
  • Trempealeau - 896 cases (+17) (2 deaths)
  • Vernon - 434 cases (+1) (3 deaths)
  • Vilas - 448 cases (+28) (3 deaths)
  • Walworth - 3,114 cases (+57) (36 deaths)
  • Washburn – 200 cases (+20) (2 deaths)
  • Washington - 3,918 cases (+145) (41 deaths) (+1)
  • Waukesha – 10,576 cases (+281) (106 deaths)
  • Waupaca – 2,031 cases (+20) (32 deaths) (+3)
  • Waushara - 817 cases (+31) (3 deaths)
  • Winnebago – 7,723 cases (+116) (51 deaths) (+2)
  • Wood - 1,389 cases (+18) (9 deaths)

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula**

  • Alger - 75 cases (1 death) (cases revised -1 by state)
  • Baraga - 62 cases (+3) (4 deaths)
  • Chippewa - 66 cases (+2)
  • Delta – 886 cases (+10) (18 deaths) (+1)
  • Dickinson – 487 cases (+43) (9 deaths) (+2)
  • Gogebic - 218 cases (+4) (1 death)
  • Houghton – 710 cases (+6) (7 deaths)
  • Iron – 349 cases (+16) (19 deaths) (+2)
  • Keweenaw – 17 cases
  • Luce – 32 cases (+1)
  • Mackinac - 114 cases (+3)
  • Marquette - 730 cases (+44) (12 deaths)
  • Menominee - 548 cases (+17) (3 deaths)
  • Ontonagon – 68 cases (+1)
  • Schoolcraft - 51 cases

* Viewers have asked us why the state has different numbers than what’s reported on some county health department websites. The DHS reports cases from all health departments within a county’s boundaries, including tribal, municipal and county health departments; county websites may not. Also, public health departments update their data at various times whereas the DHS freezes the numbers it receives by the same time every day to compile the afternoon report.

The DHS reports deaths attributed to COVID-19 or in which COVID-19 contributed to their death. Most of the people severely affected by the coronavirus have underlying illnesses or conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease or obesity, which raises a person’s risk of dying from COVID-19 but would’ve lived longer if not for their infection. The state may revise case and death numbers after further review, such as the victim’s residence, duplicated records, or a correction in lab results. Details can be found on the DHS website and Frequently Asked Questions.

**The state of Michigan does not update numbers on Sundays.

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.

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.

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