New Wisconsin COVID-19 cases drop by 20,000 as backlog clears

Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 2:51 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 19, 2022 at 3:44 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The recent surge of new, confirmed COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin abated a bit Tuesday, with fewer than half as many positive tests tallied in the latest report as there were the previous day.

Despite dropping more than 20,000 cases, the Dept. of Health Services still counted 14,953 in the past day. State health officials indicated this number was again inflated as it tries to clear a backlog caused by its earlier reporting process. ((UPDATE (1/19): In a meeting with reporters on Wednesday, a DHS official indicated the backlog had been cleared by Monday. That would leave Tuesday’s total as the highest recorded since the pandemic began, not including days affected by the backlog.)

Since Friday, when DHS indicated case numbers would skyrocket as it cleared the massive backlog caused by an earlier reporting process, the state has reported over 100,000 new cases. Going into that day, the state averaged approximately 10,000 cases per day over the preceding week.

Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services new, confirmed COVID-19 case counts between Jan. 2 and Jan....
Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services new, confirmed COVID-19 case counts between Jan. 2 and Jan. 17, 2022.(Dept. of Health Services)

The seven-day rolling average, which is meant to mitigate day-to-day volatility, now stands at 18,216 cases per day. It will remain inflated by the reporting change for at least the next week. The last day before DHS started its course correction, the average was a record 10,593 cases per day and were on a sharp upward trend, despite the fact cases at the time were being underreported when compared to current methods.

The ballooning figures for the past five days, along with the already high number of people testing positive, has sent the total number of people who tested positive because of the virus – which stood near 1 million on New Year’s Day – to 1,226,097 since the pandemic began.

Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene data show that the rising case counts that led to the backlog in the first place has been led by the Omicron variant, supporting warnings from health officials on all levels of government. While the Delta varieties still made up a majority of the thousands of cases that were tested last month, the baton has been passed. Omicron completely took over in January, rising from less than 40 percent of cases last month to nearly 95 percent now, although the sample size for January remains much smaller than previous months.

Wisconsin SARS-CoV-2 (hCoV-19) Genomic Dashboard
Wisconsin SARS-CoV-2 (hCoV-19) Genomic Dashboard(Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene)

Deaths, which has seemingly not been affected by changeover, remained within recent trends with 38 more being reported Tuesday, while the rolling average stood at 21 per day. In all, DHS reports 10,582 people have died from complications related to the virus.

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