Dane Co. COVID death rate more than 2 times lower than state average despite higher case rate

MADISON, Wis. — Dane County is seeing more cases of COVID-19 than the rest of Wisconsin, but it is also testing more and seeing fewer deaths than the rest of the state, according to updated data released by health officials Friday.

Public Health Madison & Dane County’s biweekly “data snapshot” found the county is now averaging 246 new cases of COVID-19 per day, which health officials attribute to new Omicron subvariants. On average, Dane County’s case rate so far in 2022 is 1.7 times higher than Wisconsin’s — but that almost exactly mirrors how much higher Dane County’s testing rate is than the state’s, at 1.6 times the average of the rest of Wisconsin.

Despite the higher case numbers, Dane County is seeing drastically lower COVID-19 death rates than the rest of the state. PHMDC says the age-adjusted COVID death rate over the past five months was more than two times as high for the rest of Wisconsin than it was in Dane County, which health officials attribute to Dane County having the highest vaccination rate of any county in the state.

Lower death rates in Dane County could also be in part due to higher levels of access to health care and testing, PHMDC says.


Local health officials say the BA.2 Omicron subvariant is now the dominant strain of COVID-19 in both Dane County and Wisconsin, but a newer subvariant — BA.2.12.1 — is gaining more traction in the state. Early research indicates that subvariant, along with subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, could be even more infectious than the Omciron BA.1 and BA.2 subvariants.

That is leading local health officials to again urge everyone to stay up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccinations and get booster doses when they are eligible to help prevent serious infection and possible hospitalization. PHMDC says 83.8% of people in Dane County have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 79.7% have completed their initial vaccine series, but a much lower rate of people aged 5 and up — 63.6% — are considered “up-to-date” on their COVID vaccines.

You can read all of the data reported in PHMDC’s latest data snapshot here.