Wisconsin says record high COVID-19 numbers are due to reporting backlog

The state of Wisconsin reported a record high 4,591 new COVID-19 cases and 33 new deaths Tuesday, but the large totals were presented with a warning the numbers might be inflated. 

Wisconsin did not report COVID-19 updates over the weekend as its reporting system underwent "routine maintenance." Due to the maintenance, no data was reported Saturday, Oct. 17, which could have skewed the data in the subsequent days. 

"As health departments work through importing these cases, our historical data, and case numbers may be higher over the last few days," the notice from the Department of Health Services said. 

The Department of Health recommends looking at the 7-day rolling averages as the most accurate representation of the COVID-19 data in the state. 

The 7-day case increase average is 3,287 and the 7-day percent positive rate is 21.7 percent. 

Before the maintenance, Wisconsin had reported records for new COVID-19 cases for two days straight with the seven-day average for deaths at an all-time high.

Wednesday, a judge blocked Gov. Tony Evers' order to limit capacity in bars, restaurants and other indoor spaces as COVID-19 spreads unchecked across the state. That order was reimposed Monday, however. 

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 Sept. 22.  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. 

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.