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Wisconsin sees big jump in COVID-19 deaths, cases and tests

The state also reports more than 400,000 people have completed COVID-19 vaccinations
WISCONSIN state map with CORONAVIRUS lettering, on texture, finished graphic
WISCONSIN state map with CORONAVIRUS lettering, on texture, finished graphic(Associated Press)
Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 2:15 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 25, 2021 at 8:26 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) – 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. County case and death totals are listed later in this article.

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.

COVID-19 VACCINATIONS

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.

GroupReceived at least 1 dose
(% of their group)
Received both doses
(% of their group)
16-170.6%0.4%
18-245.2%3.5%
25-349.2%7.0%
35-4410.9%8.2%
45-5410.6%7.9%
55-6410.9%7.4%
65+49.4%16.2%
American Indian9.7%4.1%
Asian6.2%3.9%
Black4.4%1.8%
White13.6%6.6%

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. The emphasis in that expanded group is educators and child care workers. However, the first priority is still vaccinating people 65 and older. Deputy Health Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said Thursday, “We couldn’t take our whole vaccine supply and give it to educators, because we need to keep vaccine available for people who are 65 plus. So the plan is that we continue in that 70- to 80,000 dose level going out to our vaccinators to continue to vaccinate people 65 plus, and as they finish those groups move on to other eligible groups.”

  • 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. Even with the increased allocation coming from the federal government next week, the DHS says 700,000 people fall into these groups and it will take about two months to vaccinate everyone who qualifies.

The Oconto County Health Department, for one, says it won’t vaccinate the expanded group until the week of March 15 or when 50% of older adults in the county are vaccinated, whichever comes later, because it doesn’t have an adequate supply of vaccines.

Action 2 News continues updating its guide to vaccination clinics and health agencies distributing the COVID-19 vaccine. CLICK HERE for locations and phone numbers and websites to register.

Article continues below the video

HOSPITALIZATIONS

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.

Despite the increase in hospitalizations, the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) reports there are 24 fewer COVID-19 patients in hospitals than Wednesday when you take discharges and deaths into account, but there were 4 more patients in intensive care units. Thursday’s figures show 331 people are currently hospitalized, with 97 in ICU, due to COVID-19. It’s the lowest number of COVID patients in hospitals at one time since September 13.

There are 20 COVID-19 patients in the Fox Valley region’s 13 hospitals, which is 3 more than Wednesday. There are 3 in ICU, an increase of 2.

The Northeast region’s 10 hospitals were treating 39 patients, an increase of 2 over Wednesday. Twelve of them are in ICU, the same number as Tuesday and Wednesday.

HOSPITAL READINESS

In terms of hospital readiness, the WHA reported 283 ICU beds (19.3%) and 2,057 of all medical beds (18.4%) -- ICU, intermediate care, medical surgical and negative flow isolation beds -- are open in the state’s 134 hospitals.

Fox Valley hospitals had 30 ICU beds (28.8%) and 128 of all medical beds (15.0%) open for the eight counties they serve.

In the Northeast region, hospitals have 34 ICU beds (16.4%) and 205 of all medical beds (21.4%) available.

These are beds for all patients, not just COVID-19, and because a bed is open or available doesn’t mean a hospital can put a patient in it if there isn’t enough staffing, including doctors, nurses and food services.

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

Wisconsin

  • Adams – 1,577 cases (11 deaths)
  • Ashland – 1,173 cases (+1) (16 deaths)
  • Barron – 5,327 cases (+6) (76 deaths)
  • Bayfield - 1,063 cases (19 deaths)
  • Brown – 30,164 cases (+45) (222 deaths) (+1)
  • Buffalo – 1,315 cases (+1) (7 deaths)
  • Burnett – 1,193 cases (+2) (23 deaths)
  • Calumet – 5,453 cases (+11) (43 deaths)
  • Chippewa – 7,021 cases (+8) (92 deaths)
  • Clark – 3,154 cases (+1) (57 deaths)
  • Columbia – 5,007 cases (+2) (51 deaths)
  • Crawford – 1,669 cases (+3) (17 deaths)
  • Dane – 40,191 (+68) (272 deaths)
  • Dodge – 11,389 cases (+15) (155 deaths)
  • Door – 2,411 cases (+5) (20 deaths)
  • Douglas – 3,667 cases (+6) (26 deaths)
  • Dunn – 4,250 cases (+6) (28 deaths)
  • Eau Claire – 10,977 cases (+16) (104 deaths)
  • Florence - 435 cases (+1) (12 deaths)
  • Fond du Lac – 11,939 cases (+5) (93 deaths)
  • Forest - 924 cases (23 deaths)
  • Grant – 4,630 cases (+5) (80 deaths) (+1)
  • Green – 3,110 cases (+10) (16 deaths)
  • Green Lake - 1,524 cases (18 deaths)
  • Iowa - 1,852 cases (+3) (9 deaths)
  • Iron - 537 cases (20 deaths)
  • Jackson - 2,578 cases (23 deaths)
  • Jefferson – 7,854 cases (+16) (111 deaths) (+32)
  • Juneau - 2,979 cases (+3) (19 deaths)
  • Kenosha – 14,787 cases (+23) (300 deaths) ( deaths revised -1 by state)
  • Kewaunee – 2,413 cases (27 deaths)
  • La Crosse – 12,170 cases (+8) (78 deaths) (+1)
  • Lafayette - 1,456 cases (+7) (7 deaths)
  • Langlade - 1,932 cases (+1) (31 deaths)
  • Lincoln – 2,900 cases (+3) (58 deaths)
  • Manitowoc – 7,226 cases (+13) (63 deaths)
  • Marathon – 13,635 cases (+14) (176 deaths) (+1)
  • Marinette - 3,977 cases (62 deaths)
  • Marquette – 1,300 cases (+3) (21 deaths)
  • Menominee - 795 cases (11 deaths)
  • Milwaukee – 97,976 (+151) (1,229 deaths) (+5)
  • Monroe – 4,304 cases (+20) (31 deaths)
  • Oconto – 4,255 cases (+3) (48 deaths)
  • Oneida - 3,354 cases (+5) (67 deaths) (+1)
  • Outagamie – 19,182 cases (+62) (194 deaths) (+2)
  • Ozaukee – 7,609 cases (+11) (77 deaths)
  • Pepin – 806 cases (+2) (7 deaths)
  • Pierce – 3,458 cases (+4) (33 deaths)
  • Polk – 3,893 cases (+11) (44 deaths)
  • Portage – 6,458 cases (+6) (64 deaths)
  • Price – 1,153 cases (+2) (7 deaths)
  • Racine – 20,300 cases (+30) (320 deaths) (+5)
  • Richland - 1,285 cases (+1) (14 deaths)
  • Rock – 14,355 cases (+19) (157 deaths) (+1)
  • Rusk - 1,249 cases (+2) (16 deaths)
  • Sauk – 5,258 cases (+13) (39 deaths)
  • Sawyer - 1,506 cases (+5) (21 deaths)
  • Shawano – 4,589 cases (+7) (70 deaths)
  • Sheboygan – 12,847 cases (+21) (128 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)
  • Vilas - 2,117 cases (+13) (36 deaths)
  • Walworth – 8,815 cases (+14) (126 deaths)
  • Washburn – 1,291 cases (+4) (18 deaths)
  • Washington – 13,709 cases (+9) (133 deaths)
  • Waukesha – 40,504 cases (+53) (482 deaths) (+2)
  • Waupaca – 4,770 cases (+4) (112 deaths)
  • Waushara – 2,099 cases (+1) (31 deaths) (+1)
  • Winnebago – 17,022 cases (+40) (183 deaths)
  • Wood – 6,682 cases (+6) (73 deaths)

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula **

  • Alger - 277 cases (1 death)
  • Baraga - 506 cases (+1) (32 deaths)
  • Chippewa - 719 cases (+3) (23 deaths)
  • Delta – 2,649 cases (+5) (65 deaths)
  • Dickinson - 2,131 cases (55 deaths)
  • Gogebic - 927 cases (+1) (19 deaths)
  • Houghton – 2,122 cases (+14) (32 deaths)
  • Iron – 866 cases (40 deaths)
  • Keweenaw – 115 cases (1 death)
  • Luce – 132 cases
  • Mackinac - 290 cases (3 deaths)
  • Marquette - 3,452 cases (+4) (54 deaths)
  • Menominee - 1,614 cases (35 deaths)
  • Ontonagon – 359 cases (19 deaths)
  • Schoolcraft - 229 cases (4 deaths)

* Cases and deaths are from the daily DHS COVID-19 reports, which may differ from local health department numbers. The DHS reports cases from all health departments within a county’s boundaries, including tribal, municipal and county health departments; county websites may not. Also, public health departments update their data at various times, whereas the DHS freezes the numbers it receives by the same time every day to compile the afternoon report.

The DHS reports deaths attributed to COVID-19 or in which COVID-19 contributed to their death. Most of the people severely affected by the coronavirus have underlying illnesses or conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease or obesity, which raises a person’s risk of dying from COVID-19. They would’ve lived longer if not for their infection. The state may revise case and death numbers after further review, such as the victim’s residence, duplicated records, or a correction in lab results. Details can be found on the DHS website and Frequently Asked Questions.

**The state of Michigan does not update numbers on Sundays. Monday’s numbers include updates since Saturday’s reporting deadline.

COVID-19 Tracing App

Wisconsin’s COVID-19 tracing app, “Wisconsin Exposure Notification,” is available for iOS and Android smartphones. No download is required for iPhones. The Android app is available on Google Play. When two phones with the app (and presumably their owners) are close enough, for long enough, they’ll anonymously share a random string of numbers via Bluetooth. If someone tests positive for the coronavirus, they’ll receive a code to type into the app. If your phones “pinged” each other in the last 14 days, you’ll receive a push notification that you are at risk of exposure. The app doesn’t collect personal information or location information, so you won’t know from whom or where, but you will be told what day the exposure might have occurred so that you can quarantine for the appropriate amount of time.

Symptoms

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified these as possible symptoms of COVID-19:

  • Fever of 100.4 or higher
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

Prevention

  • The coronavirus is a new, or “novel,” virus. Nobody has a natural immunity to it.
  • Children and teens seem to recover best from the virus. Older people and those with underlying health conditions (heart disease, diabetes, lung disease) are considered at high risk, according to the CDC. Precautions are also needed around people with developing or weakened immune systems.
  • To help prevent the spread of the virus:
  • Stay at least six feet away from other people
  • Avoid close contact with people who are or appear sick
  • Stay at home as much as possible
  • Cancel events and avoid groups, gatherings, play dates and nonessential appointments

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