Record-breaking 456 new positive cases of COVID-19 reported in Dane County

Parisi: 'Incredibly difficult and sad weeks ahead if we don't rally together now and stop this deeply disturbing trend'
Downtown Madison View from Sky3 drone

MADISON, Wis. — A Dane County leader said there was a record-breaking number of positive COVID-19 cases in Dane County in the last 24 hours.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said there were 456 new positive cases of COVID-19 reported in the county. The county had previously set a record with Saturday’s COVID-19 new cases at 147. Before this weekend, the county’s record number for a single day was 141 cases on June 30.

“Our community is experiencing its first sustained, significant surge of illness since this terrible pandemic began,” Parisi said in a statement. “The task before all of us is great, as we are facing a public health emergency. We will have some incredibly difficult and sad weeks ahead if we don’t rally together now and stop this deeply disturbing trend.”

Parisi said the vast majority of the new cases are affiliated with the University of Wisconsin. Public Health Madison & Dane County has nearly 100 contact tracers to help identify and isolate illness in a timely fashion, Parisi said.

“Even with the most robust contact tracing program in the state, our public health department will not be able to keep up with this volume of cases from the UW,” Parisi said.

Parisi also called for people who test positive to cooperate with contact tracers.

“Of additional challenge, a number of the young people who public health staff try to contact are not being helpful or forthcoming about whom they have been in contact with, complicating the necessary work to help limit community spread,” Parisi said. “Detailed, effective contact tracing is critical, but we need those who test positive to cooperate if Public Health contacts them.”

On Wednesday, PHMDC said anyone who lives or works in the downtown Madison area should assume they’ve been exposed to COVID-19. Parisi had also said in March — when community spread was beginning in the area — that anyone in Dane County should assume they were exposed.

Later on Wednesday, Parisi had written letters to university officials asking them to send undergraduate students home amid a COVID-19 spike concentrated in downtown Madison. On Wednesday evening, the University of Wisconsin-Madison announced that it would switch to virtual learning until Sept. 25 as a result of rising coronavirus cases on campus.

UW-Madison also announced Wednesday it would quarantine two dorms for two weeks starting Wednesday night. Students only had a couple hours  notice before the quarantine began.

There were no new deaths reported in Dane County between Wednesday and Thursday. Since the pandemic began, 41 people in the county have died from the coronavirus.