Dane Co. sets new single-day record for coronavirus cases, at least half among UW-Madison students, staff

MADISON, Wis. — Dane County set a new single-day record Saturday for confirmed coronavirus cases, and at least half of those cases were confirmed among UW-Madison students and staff, according to Public Health Madison & Dane County officials.

According to a news release, health officials confirmed 147 new cases Saturday, which is a new record. The previous record of 141 cases was set on June 30.

PHMDC officials said the number of confirmed cases includes people tested on the UW-Madison campus, but it does not account for students or staff who may have been tested at off-campus sites. As more contact tracing is completed, officials expect the proportion cases tied to UW-Madison to increase.

According to UW-Madison’s Smart Restart Dashboard, 116 students and four staff members tested positive on Saturday. Of those, 115 students and one staff member were tested on the UW-Madison 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, and it is important that we all take action so case counts this high don’t become a trend,” Director of Public Health Madison & Dane County Janel Heinrich said.

Health officials are asking the public to avoid gatherings to limit the spread of the virus. Nearly 40% of people who test positive say they’ve gathered with people they don’t live with, according to the release. Masks, while already required indoors, are highly recommended when outside near others.

“People want to get back to their routines, but there is nothing routine about this pandemic,” Dane County Executive Parisi said. “In Dane County, over 6,000 people have had COVID-19 and Wisconsin has had over 80,000 cases. This virus can cause long term, debilitating effects that are not well understood. Assuming you can get the virus and will ‘just get over it’ is a dangerous gamble. We have the power to stop this surge in cases; it won’t go away by itself.”

UW-Madison began testing students and staff one month ago. Since then, 698 students have tested positive for the coronavirus.