Dane County has reported its highest single-day number of confirmed COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, with UW-Madison students or staff accounting for at least half of the new cases, according to public health officials.
The record number of cases reported on Saturday — 147 — was the third consecutive day with more than 100 new cases, Public Health Madison and Dane County said.
UW-Madison leaders are reviewing “next steps” to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in conjunction with the city-county public health agency, according to a Sunday briefing posted on the university’s COVID-19 data dashboard.
“The current data illustrates a worsening situation among our campus community,” officials wrote in the briefing. “A rise in the positive proportion of total tests indicates this increase is not simply due to an increase in testing. This is the kind of exponential growth we see in COVID-19 transmission that is not well-contained.”
The seven-day average rate for positive tests among students tested on campus is 4%. In the past week, nearly 500 students and employees tested positive either at a university testing site or off-campus. But that number will likely rise, officials said, as non-campus contact tracers conduct interviews and link more cases to UW-Madison from students or employees who got tested off-campus.
“With the addition of so many students in our community and more testing on the UW-Madison campus, we expected a rise in cases, but this isn’t a record we wanted to break,” Janel Heinrich, the city-county public health director, said in a statement. “It is important we all take action so case counts this high don’t become a trend.”
The agency is asking everyone in the county to avoid gatherings, as well as continue to wear a mask, which is required to be worn indoors at all times outside one’s home and recommended outdoors when in close proximity to others.
“UW-Madison is part of the Madison community and has an impact on all of us,” Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said in a statement. “The reality is that students are not confined to campus. We need everyone to take precautions to help keep our community safe.”
Dane County’s previous single-day record was set June 30 with 141 new cases, many of which were linked to individuals in their 20s. In early July, the public health agency imposed a new order shutting down indoor service in bars.
Statewide, there were 893 new confirmed cases reported Sunday, bringing the total number of positive cases across the state to 81,193, according to the state Department of Health Services.
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“With the addition of so many students in our community and more testing on the UW-Madison campus, we expected a rise in cases, but this isn’t a record we wanted to break.” Janel Heinrich, city-county public health director
"With the addition of so many students in our community and more testing on the UW-Madison campus, we expected a rise in cases, but this isn't a record we wanted to break."
Janel Heinrich, city-county public health director