WI sees more COVID-19 deaths & more test results; positivity rate remains low

COVID-19(WEAU 13 News)
Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 3:33 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY, WEAU) – Wisconsin saw COVID-19 metrics on Thursday like it hasn’t seen in weeks or months.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services added 52 deaths to COVID-19′s death toll. It’s the most deaths the DHS added in one day in almost a month (it reported 54 deaths on January 26). The death toll is now almost 6,400 people (6,394) and the state’s 7-day average is 23 deaths per day, up from an average of 18 on Wednesday.

More than half of the deaths (32) were in Jefferson County. We don’t have an explanation yet for that surge in their numbers. Other counties reporting deaths were: Brown, Grant, La Crosse, Marathon, Milwaukee (5), Oneida, Outagamie (2), Racine (5), Rock, Waukesha (2) and Waushara.

The state diagnosed 840 more people infected with the COVID-19 virus. It marks the fourth straight day the state has seen that number rise. That’s almost 100 positive tests than Wednesday, and was the most positive tests since February 12. It caused the 7-day average to rise to 633 new cases per day.

But look at the positivity rate to put those new cases in perspective: The DHS received 13,177 test results for people who were tested for the coronavirus for the first time or tested positive for the first time. The state hasn’t received this many test results since December 12. It hasn’t received more than 10,000 test results in any 24-hour period since January 8.

Those positive tests were 6.37% of the 13,177 results -- the lowest positivity rate by this measure in more than 6 months, since August 18, and the third day this month that rate was below 10%, which hasn’t happened since September.

By the measure of all test results, including people tested multiple times, the positivity rate averages 2.4% of tests over 7 days. That’s based on preliminary numbers which are a day behind Thursday’s figures. The average dropped from 2.7% the day before.

New cases were identified in 62 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. Thirteen counties added just 1 or 2 cases.

It’s now been two weeks since more than 1,000 coronavirus cases were added to Wisconsin’s total in a day. In about 13 months since the virus reached Wisconsin, 547,168 people diagnosed with the virus (97.4%) have recovered. There are 8,430 active cases diagnosed in the past 30 days, or 1.5% of all cases. More than 3 million people (3,177,606) have been tested once or more for the coronavirus, and 562,151 cases were confirmed.


Wisconsin continues to make progress vaccinating people against the COVID-19 virus. So far, 842,818 people have received at least one shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. The state says almost half of the people vaccinated -- 411,717 people -- received their second, final dose. That’s 25,645 more people than the state reported on Wednesday, and it’s more than 7% (7.1%) of the state’s population. These numbers are preliminary as vaccinators’ reports continue to come in.

A total 1,281,901 “shots in the arm” of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered. The state is nearing half of its older adult population, 65 and older, getting at least one dose, while 16.2% have completed their vaccine regimen.

Here are some local vaccination stats:


CHIPPEWA CO. FIRST DOSE: 10,985 (17.0%) FULLY VACCINATED: 6,008 (9.3%)

LA CROSSE CO. FIRST DOSE: 21,776 (18.5%) FULLY VACCINATED: 11,575 (9.8%)

DUNN CO. FIRST DOSE: 5,267 (11.6%) FULLY VACCINATED: 2,335 (5.1%)

Health officials are encouraging people in minority groups to get vaccinated because of the disparity in the vaccination numbers and because minority groups are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 virus. For more information about racial and ethnic disparities in the pandemic, CLICK HERE.

Earlier this week, state health officials said Wisconsin is on target to expand eligibility for the vaccine next Monday, March 1. Priority will be given to people 65 and older, educators and child care workers:

  • Education and child care: Includes preschool to grade 12, higher education, community learning programs, and Boys & Girls Club and YMCA staff members
  • People enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs, such as Family Care and IRIS
  • Some public-facing frontline workers, including public transit and people responsible for utility and communications infrastructure
  • 911 operators
  • Workers in the food supply chain: Farms; production plants; food retail, which includes supermarkets and convenience stores selling groceries; and hunger relief distribution
  • Congregate living: Residents and staff of domestic abuse and homeless shelters; housing for the elderly or people with disabilities; prisons and jails; mental health facilities; some employer-based housing
  • Non-frontline essential health care: Emergency management; cyber security; critical support roles such as cleaning, HVAC and refrigeration; critical supply chain, such as production and distribution of vaccine

This is not an all-inclusive list, and vaccinations will be dependent on local vaccine supply, but state leaders were told the federal government is increasing the state’s allocation next week. Even with that increased allocation, the DHS says 700,000 people fall into these groups and it will take about two months to vaccinate everyone who qualifies.


The DHS says 61 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 in the past 24-hour period, a little more than the average 57 hospitalizations per day. Almost 26,000 people (25,954) have been hospitalized for COVID-19 in the last year, which is 4.6% of all cases.

The Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) reported Wednesday there are 355 people currently hospitalized for COVID-19, with 93 in ICU, after taking deaths and discharges into account. We expect updated hospitalization figures Thursday afternoon.


In terms of hospital readiness, the WHA reported 276 ICU beds (18.8%) and 2,038 of all medical beds (18.2%) -- ICU, intermediate care, medical surgical and negative flow isolation beds -- are open in the state’s 134 hospitals.

THURSDAY’S COUNTY CASE AND DEATH TOTALS (Counties with new cases or deaths are indicated in bold) *

  • Barron – 5,327 cases (+6) (76 deaths)
  • Buffalo – 1,315 cases (+1) (7 deaths)
  • Chippewa – 7,021 cases (+8) (92 deaths)
  • Clark – 3,154 cases (+1) (57 deaths)
  • Dunn – 4,250 cases (+6) (28 deaths)
  • Eau Claire – 10,977 cases (+16) (104 deaths)
  • Jackson - 2,578 cases (23 deaths)
  • La Crosse – 12,170 cases (+8) (78 deaths) (+1)
  • Monroe – 4,304 cases (+20) (31 deaths)
  • Pepin – 806 cases (+2) (7 deaths)
  • Pierce – 3,458 cases (+4) (33 deaths)
  • Polk – 3,893 cases (+11) (44 deaths)
  • Rusk - 1,249 cases (+2) (16 deaths)
  • Sawyer - 1,506 cases (+5) (21 deaths)
  • St. Croix – 6,353 cases (+5) (43 deaths)
  • Taylor - 1,797 cases (21 deaths)
  • Trempealeau – 3,379 cases (+1) (36 deaths)
  • Vernon – 1,822 cases (+4) (36 deaths)
  • Washburn – 1,291 cases (+4) (18 deaths)
  • Wood – 6,682 cases (+6) (73 deaths)

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