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Wisconsin sets new single-day record for positive COVID-19 cases
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Wisconsin sets new single-day record for positive COVID-19 cases

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COVID-19 testing

Members of the Wisconsin National Guard collect samples from people in their vehicles at a free community testing site for COVID-19 at the Alliant Energy Center on May 13.

Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services reported yet another grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, with the state seeing its highest-ever single-day increase in positive COVID-19 cases.

On Tuesday, DHS reported a total of 44,135 known COVID-19 cases, a single-day increase of 1,117. The death toll reached 859, an increase of 13 over Monday. Deaths now comprise 1.9% of the total cases reported.

Stephanie Smiley, DHS Division of Public Health interim administrator, said the rise in cases is a cause for concern.

“The trend is going in the wrong direction,” Smiley said. “We want to see decreases in the number of cases each day. We’re really hoping that people will try to make some changes in terms of their behavior and really ensuring that they’re doing their part to stop the spread.”

COVID-19 cases and deaths

Smiley emphasized Wisconsinites should make use of preventive measures as much as possible, including staying home, social distancing, wearing masks or cloth face coverings, washing hands for at least 20 seconds and getting tested if you have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19.

Smiley pointed to wearing a mask and social distancing as two of the most important measures people can take to protect themselves and others.

Smiley said there is currently higher disease activity across the state than in March, when Wisconsin first grappled with the virus and shut down swaths of the economy.

“Disease activity across the state is definitely high, and it is high in most of the counties in our state,” Smiley said. “When things were shut down, you can imagine disease activity was much lower.”

Smiley said that toward the beginning of the pandemic, it was typical to see people who contracted the virus reporting three to five contacts. But now, she said, people with the virus are reporting contacts of 15 to 20 others.

Since May, when the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ statewide stay-at-home order, it’s been up to local governments to issue COVID-19-related regulations. Republicans who control the Legislature have determined they prefer a county-by-county approach to managing the virus rather than a statewide one.

Cases started rising again last month after the first wave that began in March started to level off or abate. Smiley said people attending social gatherings have typically been the drivers of the current spread.

So far, 794,697 people have been tested in the state, a 14,488 increase from Monday. A total of 4,194 people have been hospitalized with the disease, which represents 9.5% of those who tested positive for the virus.

Wisconsin’s case counts are now outpacing many of its neighbors. On Tuesday, Illinois, a state with more than double the population of Wisconsin, reported 955 new known positive COVID-19 cases. Minnesota had an average daily increase of 636 cases over the past two days. Michigan, a state with a much larger population than Wisconsin, recorded 573 new positive COVID-19 cases.

COVID-19 in photos: How Wisconsin is managing the pandemic