Wisconsin’s COVID-19 outbreak continues to grow

Wisconsin recorded more coronavirus infections, logging 1,865 COVID-19 cases Sunday on the heels of a five-day streak in which the state reported more than 2,000 cases each day, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.



a man standing in front of a car parked in a parking lot: People line up in their vehicles to undergo the coronavirus disease tests, distributed by the Wisconsin National Guard at the United Migrant Opportunity Services center, in Milwaukee, Oct. 2, 2020.


© Alex Wroblewski/Reuters
People line up in their vehicles to undergo the coronavirus disease tests, distributed by the Wisconsin National Guard at the United Migrant Opportunity Services center, in Milwaukee, Oct. 2, 2020.

In addition to rising case counts, the state’s seven-day average for positive COVID-19 tests was above 9% on Friday, nearly double the rate that health experts recommend.

A high positivity rate can be a sign that a state is only testing its sickest patients and failing to cast a net wide enough to accurately capture community transmission, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The World Health Organization recommends that governments get their positivity testing threshold below 5%.



a man standing next to a car in a parking lot: People line up in their vehicles to undergo the coronavirus disease tests, distributed by the Wisconsin National Guard at the United Migrant Opportunity Services center, in Milwaukee, Oct. 2, 2020.


© Alex Wroblewski/Reuters
People line up in their vehicles to undergo the coronavirus disease tests, distributed by the Wisconsin National Guard at the United Migrant Opportunity Services center, in Milwaukee, Oct. 2, 2020.

Following the spike in cases, Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, issued an emergency order and declared a public health emergency in the state on Sept. 22, including a statewide mask mandate. Republican members of Congress have since filed a lawsuit attempting to block Evers’ statewide mask mandate.

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“Wisconsin is in the midst of a pandemic that is growing at a near-exponential rate,” according to the governor’s office.

The governor also pointed the finger at college students who have returned to campus in person this fall. “College and university students are driving the increase in cases, with the highest rate of new COVID-19 cases in 18- to 24-year-olds,” according to the governor’s office.

“I am concerned about the alarming trends of COVID-19 we’re seeing across our state,” Evers said at a press conference last week. “The longer it takes for everyone to take COVID-19 seriously, the longer this virus will linger.”



a sign on the side of a building: The Neenah Public Library is closed to the public until further notice because of a spike of COVID-19 cases in the community. Apc Neenahlibrarycoronavirus 0316200085


© Dan Powers/Post Crescent via USA Today Network
The Neenah Public Library is closed to the public until further notice because of a spike of COVID-19 cases in the community. Apc Neenahlibrarycoronavirus 0316200085

Experts consider deaths from COVID-19 to be a lagging indictor of the outbreak’s severity, meaning that since deaths trail rising infections, positivity rates and hospitalizations, deaths typically reflect long-term trends, not in-the-moment severity.

As of Sunday, 1,377 people in Wisconsin had died of the virus, according to the health department.

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