Positive tests for COVID-19 reach 514 in Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. — The number of positive coronavirus cases in Wisconsin is now 514.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services said Tuesday afternoon that the number of COVID-19 cases in the state had risen to 457, with 8,237 negative tests.

Following the DHS press conference, Milwaukee County announced 49 more cases, La Crosse County reported 5 more cases, and Grant, Monroe and Iowa counties all reported their first cases.

Five people have died from complications related to coronavirus in the state.

The updated numbers came during a press briefing with Gov. Tony Evers, in which he expanded on his Safer at Home order. The order closes nonessential businesses and limits nonessential travel starting Wednesday.

Experts said it’s important to remember the number of positive cases is just the number of people who had symptoms that were bad enough to get tested.

Dr. Ryan Westergaard, Chief Medical Officer of the Bureau of Communicable Diseases, said about 90% of people with the infection don’t have symptoms that require medical care.

“Since we generally test people in the setting of a medical evaluation because they have symptoms, that could mean that for every individual that we test positive for the infection, there are 10 individuals in the community with mild symptoms that don’t seek care. So we have a small number, hundreds of cases in the state, but it could potentially be thousands right now,” said Westergaard.

In Monday’s press conference Westergaard said about 10-12% of people who have tested positive in the state need hospitalization. On Tuesday he said it’s more like 20%.

Andrea Palm with DHS said some are questioning Evers’ Safer at Home order because there are only a few hundred cases in such a large state.

“Our experts are comparing our data to the Wuhan and Italy experiences to predict what is likely to happen in Wisconsin. And if we continue on our current path without implementing Safer At Home to flatten the curve, the models show us that we would likely have 22,000 Wisconsinites who are positive for COVID-19 by April 8, and an estimated 440-1,500 deaths,” said Palm.

Evers also read from an obituary of one of the people who died.

“We ask you to be serious about COVID-19,” he read. “Please do not panic, but educate yourselves and your family. Please do not blame or shun, rather be supportive and compassionate, especially for the people that have tested positive for this virus.”