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Average number of new COVID cases falls to lowest point since July

COVID-19
COVID-19(WEAU 13 News)
Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 2:54 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY, WEAU) – The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) reported an uptick in new cases for a third straight day, but the numbers have been so low that the 7-day average is still trending down. The state says 5,547 test results for people tested for the coronavirus -- or testing positive -- for the first time identified 733 cases.

Wisconsin has now gone 7 straight days with fewer than 1,000 COVID-19 cases each day, which hasn’t happened since August 28-September 3. And by our calculations, the 7-day average for new cases is 659 a day. We had to look all the way back to July 10 to find an average lower than that.

The percentage of positive cases looking at first-time tests was 13.21% and the 7-day average positivity rate, again by our calculation, is down to 14.51%. That’s the lowest in 5 months. By the state’s new metric looking at all test results, including health care workers, patients and others being tested multiple times, the 7-day average is down to 3.0%. As we’ve reported, health officials want to see these positivity rates fall to 3% to consider the COVID-19 virus is being managed.

Wisconsin also saw a day-to-day increase in the number of COVID-19 deaths. Eighteen more people were added to the death toll, bringing it to 6,232. That’s still 1.12% of all known coronavirus cases in the state. Wisconsin is averaging 13 deaths per day over the past 7 days, but one month ago that average was 44 deaths per day.

Dane, Kenosha and Milwaukee counties each reported 3 deaths. Oneida reported two. Barron, Calumet, Douglas, Outagamie, Sheboygan, Waukesha and Waupaca counties had one death each.

New cases were identified in all but four Wisconsin counties, with Ashland, Buffalo, Pepin and Rusk being the exceptions. Twenty-one counties reported only one or two new cases.

VACCINATIONS

Wisconsin is launching a COVID-19 vaccine registry website. Starting March 1, the vaccine registry will roll out in increments. The Department of Health Services describes it as “a central place to let people know where and when they can they can get vaccinated, and let them schedule an appointment.” Click here for more information.

People will be required to answer questions to prove they are eligible for the vaccine. The registry will send reminders to people to get their second dose. The registry is expected to be available to the entire state by April 1. On Feb. 22, several health departments will start testing the system in their communities.

Wisconsin set a new record for the day-to-day reporting of completed COVID-19 vaccinations. The state says 24,870 people received the second dose since Wednesday’s report, completing their vaccination regimen. We expected to see that metric jump as more people 65 and older fall into the 3- to 4-week window for their second dose. Vaccinations of older adults began in earnest 24 days ago, and it can take one, two, or three days for vaccinators’ updates to be included in the state numbers.

In all, the DHS says 1,070,199 shots have been administered, including first and second doses. 761,336 people in the state have received at least one dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, which is 13.1% of the state’s population.

Since February 5, 2020, the state says 557,722 people tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, which is almost 10% of the population. The state reports 97.1% of these people (541,515) are considered recovered, meaning it’s been more than 30 days since they were first diagnosed or noticed symptoms, though some may be considered “long haulers” with lingering effects from their infection. There are only 9,816 active cases in the cases right now, which is 1.8% of all cases.

Health officials are also encouraging people in minority groups to get vaccinated, seeing a disparity in the numbers and knowing minority groups are disproportionately effected by COVID-19′s serious symptoms. To date, 12.3% of all the state’s white residents received a dose or two of COVID-19 vaccine. In comparison, only 8.5% of American Indians, 5.6% of Asians and 3.6% of the state’s Black population received the vaccine. (The DHS says 8.3% of records listed race as “Unknown” and 4.9% reported it as “Other.”) For more information about racial and ethnic disparities in the pandemic, CLICK HERE.

HOSPITALIZATIONS

The DHS says 58 more people were hospitalized for COVID-19, the ninth day with fewer than 100 hospitalizations. That’s in line with the 7-day average of 59 people hospitalized per day. Since the virus’s first appearance in Wisconsin, 25,556 people have been hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment, which is 4.6% of all known cases.

Wednesday, the latest data available, the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) reported 385 COVID-19 patients in the state’s hospitals, including 107 in intensive care. It was the second time in a week hospitalizations fell below 400, which hasn’t happened since mid-September, and the fewest COVID-19 patients in ICU since mid-September, too.

Hospitals in the Northeast Region reported 32 COVID-19 patients, with 11 in ICU. That’s one more patient in ICU than Tuesday but 1 less patient hospitalized overall.

HOSPITAL READINESS

In terms of hospital readiness, the WHA reported 267 ICU beds (18.2%) and 2,180 of all medical beds (19.5%) are unoccupied in the state’s 134 hospitals. All medical beds include ICU, intermediate care, medical surgical and negative flow isolation. These are beds for all patients, not just COVID-19.

Statewide, 16 of the 134 hospitals report they have less than a 7-day supply of gowns and 11 are running low on paper medical masks. Those numbers are the same as Monday.

THURSDAY’S COUNTY CASE UPDATES IN PROGRESS (Counties with new cases or deaths are indicated in bold) *

  • Barron – 5,270 cases (+3) (75 deaths) (+1)
  • Buffalo – 1,308 cases (7 deaths)
  • Chippewa – 6,989 cases (+5) (90 deaths)
  • Clark – 3,148 cases (+4) (57 deaths)
  • Dunn – 4,205 cases (+1) (27 deaths)
  • Eau Claire – 10,895 cases (+11) (104 deaths)
  • Jackson - 2,575 cases (+2) (23 deaths)
  • La Crosse – 12,093 cases (+7) (75 deaths)
  • Monroe – 4,247 cases (+3) (30 deaths)
  • Pepin – 800 cases (7 deaths)
  • Pierce – 3,421 cases (+4) (33 deaths)
  • Polk – 3,811 cases (+15) (44 deaths)
  • Rusk - 1,241 cases (16 deaths)
  • Sawyer - 1,479 cases (+8) (21 deaths)
  • St. Croix – 6,294 cases (+10) (42 deaths)
  • Taylor - 1,792 cases (+7) (20 deaths)
  • Trempealeau – 3,364 cases (+2) (36 deaths)
  • Vernon – 1,804 cases (+2) (36 deaths)
  • Washburn – 1,278 cases (+4) (18 deaths)
  • Wood – 6,639 cases (+8) (72 deaths)

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