Wisconsin reports record 120 new COVID-19 deaths Tuesday

(Wisconsin Department of Health Services)

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported 120 new COVID-19 deaths statewide Tuesday, the highest single-day total of the pandemic. 

On Facebook, the state sent its "sympathies to family and friends who have lost loved ones to this disease," just three days before the Christmas holiday. 

The spike brought the pandemic death total to 4,545 and the 7-day death increase average to 60, the second highest mark of the pandemic. 

Tuesdays tend to bring the highest case and death totals on each week, but the state did not say there were any reporting delays or discrepancies that led to the high total. 

The death spike comes as the 7-day case increase average dropped to 2,659, the lowest mark since Oct. 12. 

Hospitals are at 81 percent capacity for COVID-19 patients, leaving more than 2,000 beds available. 21 percent of hospitalizations are ICU patients, or 272 total. 

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 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.