COVID-19 in Wisconsin: Positivity rate on the rise over holidays

Members of the Wisconsin National Guard test residents for COVID-19 at a temporary test facility set up in the parking lot of the UMOS corporate headquarters on Oct. 9, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

As cases and deaths have trended mostly lower in recent weeks, Wisconsin's COVID-19 positivity rate is on the rise.

Since Christmas, when the seven-day average for the positivity rate fell to 24.1 percent, the lowest point since mid-October, the average has risen every day, pushing the rate back over 30 percent (30.7).

But it's fair to note that uneven holiday testing reporting may be contributing to the rising number. Saturday, Wisconsin reported 1,078 new COVID-19 cases on just 5,054 tests with one new death.

Since the start of the pandemic, Wisconsin has reported 484,085 COVID-19 cases with a total of 4,870 deaths -- about 1 percent of confirmed cases. Of the total cases, 452,502 (or 93.5 percent) are considered as recovered while 26,577 remain active. The disease has forced 21,449 hospitalizations since March.

The pandemic so far

COVID-19 infections can often go undetected and be asymptomatic; laboratory-confirmed tests only represent a fraction of actual COVID-19 cases. A study from the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that actual cases in some instances were six to 24 times greater than reported cases.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced an indoor mask mandate for people over the age of 5, which he extended until November 21.  Face coverings while indoors except at a private residence have been required since Aug. 1.

Evers extended the state's stay-at-home order until May 26, but on May 13, the state Supreme Court blocked the extension, effectively opening all establishments in the state. Hours later, images emerged of packed bars across the state, leading the Governor to call his state "The Wild West." Evers' original "Safer at Home" order went into effect on March 25. In October, a judge did however allow Evers' mask mandate to remain in effect.

On April 4, President Donald Trump approved a disaster declaration for Wisconsin due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This declaration allows for federal funding to be allocated to state, tribal and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations that were impacted by the virus.

For more information, go to the state health department's website.

If you have questions or immediate needs related to COVID-19, you can Text COVID19 to 211-211, visit or call 211. Call volumes are high, so officials are asking people to be patient and try to use the text or online options first. 

If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of COVID-19, health officials advise you to call your health care provider.