Why Wisconsin reported -2 coronavirus deaths Sunday

For the first time since the start of the pandemic, the state of Wisconsin reported a death total in the negatives, leading some to wonder how that’s possible.

Sunday, the state reported a death total change of -2 deaths. In a social media post, the state of Wisconsin Department of Health Services explained that the net decrease in deaths is due to corrections made to previous reports. The state's COVID-19 website notes that corrections to data are routine as cases are investigated by local public health leaders.

While two deaths have now been removed from the state's totals, over the past week Wisconsin has still averaged nine new deaths per day.

Despite the net decrease and single-digit death increase average, state officials are urging Wisconsinites to continue wearing masks, social distancing and washing their hands as the virus and its variants circulate through the state.

The state of Wisconsin reported a 7-day case increase average of 420 Sunday and a 7-day test positivity average of 2 percent.

In hospitals, 80 percent of COVID-19 beds are full as of Sunday. 55 total ICU patients were reported, too.


Statewide, 11.9 percent of the population have completed their vaccines, or 687,640 total people. 38.2 percent of people ages 65 and over have finished their vaccine.

More than 21 percent of the population has received its first dose of the vaccine, which is more than 1.2 million people. 67.6 percent of Wisconsinites over 65 have received at least one dose.

Vaccine eligibility

Wisconsin launched a website on March 3 to help people trying to get the COVID-19 vaccine get notified when they are eligible and to find appointments.

So far, the state has made vaccines available for seniors, frontline health care workers, and frontline essential workers including:

  • Police and fire personnel, correctional staff
  • Education and child care staff
  • Individuals enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs
  • Some public-facing essential workers such as 911 operators, public transit, and grocery store employees
  • Non-frontline essential health care personnel
  • Facility staff and residents of congregate living settings

The pandemic so far

The state of Wisconsin said it has discovered a COVID-19 variant in a patient. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the strain, referred to as B.1.1.7, was identified in a Wisconsin patient Jan. 12.

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.  Face coverings while indoors except at a private residence have been required since Aug. 1. However, on February 4, the state's legislature voted to repeal Evers' order. That same day, Governor Evers issued a new mask mandate order, keeping the mandate in effect.

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 211Wisconsin.org 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.