COVID Collapse: Case average falls below 1,000; a 90% drop in 1 month

Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 2:35 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Wisconsin crossed another threshold Wednesday in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic – and this time it is a positive one. In a report filled with some of the most optimistic numbers seen in weeks, the seven-day rolling average across the state dropped below 1,000 per day for the first time in more than a half a year.

The Dept. of Health Services recorded 986 new cases over the past day. That allowed the rolling average, which health officials track to smooth out day-to-day volatility, to slip to 982 cases per day over the past week. The last time DHS only needed three digits to report that figure was 203 days ago, on Aug. 4. On Jan. 23, DHS needed five digits, meaning the case average has dropped 90 percent in a single month.

New confirmed COVID-19 cases by date confirmed, and 7-day average.
New confirmed COVID-19 cases by date confirmed, and 7-day average.(Dept. of Health Services)

That decline was also reflected in the most recent case activity report for each county. At the beginning of February, every one of Wisconsin’s 72 counties was colored bright red on DHS’ tracker of coronavirus spread, indicating case activity was considered ‘critically high.’ By last week, only one county in the northwestern corner of the state still was painted red, while the rest had fallen to ‘very high.’ While still nowhere near the best classification, the drop was definitely notable.

The case activity map updates every Wednesday; and, this week, not only were there no more ‘critical counties,’ nearly thirty of them had dropped below ‘very high’ and into the regular ‘high’ category. In southwest Wisconsin, those included Jefferson, Lafayette, and Sauk counties.

COVID-19 Disease Activity
COVID-19 Disease Activity(Dept. of Health Services)

The state, as a whole, keeps falling too. Last week, the statewide figure fell 42 percent to knock Wisconsin out of the ‘critically high’ classification and into ‘very high’ territory. Now, it has fallen nearly as much and the case burden, which is used to track activity now sits at just over a third of critical levels. Case burden measures the number of cases over the previous two weeks on a per capital basis, which is then used to rate activity. Critically high is 1,000 cases per 100,000 residents. That figure is now 359.5 cases statewide, just above the cutoff for 350 case cutoff for the ‘high’ classification.

The number of people hospitalized because of the virus has also dropped significantly since last month. At its peak on Jan. 15, DHS reported 2,262 people were in the hospital with COVID-19. That number has fallen by two-thirds to 720 statewide, with every one of Wisconsin’s seven regions seeing shrinking activity, according to the latest report.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations and Hospital Capacity
COVID-19 Hospitalizations and Hospital Capacity(Dept. of Health Services)

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