‘The data tells the real story of what’s happening’: Parisi cites UW-Madison reopening as reason for Dane Co. COVID-19 case spike

COVID-19 virus
This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in the lab.

MADISON, Wis. — A Dane County leader is calling on University of Wisconsin-Madison officials to transition to virtual instruction citing a major increase in Dane County’s rate of COVID-19 infection since the start of the month.

In a statement released Sunday afternoon, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi cited the UW System’s decision to reopen campuses as the driving cause behind a recent surge in COVID-19 cases throughout Wisconsin. According to the news release, Dane County’s rate of infection is now three-and-a-half times higher than it was two weeks ago.

“We have an incredible state University system with a rich progressive tradition, but nothing that is happening now exemplifies what we have come to know as the Wisconsin Idea,” Parisi said. “This implicit acceptance that some people are just going to get sick – some seriously – spread this to friends and families, and people will experience long term cardiac illness, is entirely unacceptable when individuals have the ability to make decisions right now to prevent this from continuing. The time to act is now.”

Wisconsin surpassed 100,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus Sunday afternoon.

While UW System President Tommy Thompson cited an increase in testing as the reason for rising case numbers, Parisi said the data tells a different story.

According to the statement, 24,790 coronavirus tests were conducted in Dane County first two weeks of September. In the two weeks prior, 32,588 tests were conducted, which means there was a 24% decline in the number of tests administered during the weeks Dane County saw numbers surge.

Dane County’s rate of positivity increased from 125 per 100,000 residents to 425 per 100,000 residents during that time.

“The data tells the real story of what’s happening – Covid-19 is here, it’s spreading, and barring a major course correction this region and state are in store for countless tales of unnecessary human suffering,” Parisi said. “We have families right now unable to visit sick loved ones in the hospital because of this high prevalence of Covid-19. The data and the science are crystal clear; Wisconsin has a very real Covid-19 problem.”