Wisconsin sets third consecutive daily COVID-19 case record; more than 11.5K cases added

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MADISON, Wis. — For the third consecutive day, Wisconsin has set a record for new COVID-19 cases reported in a single day.

On Thursday afternoon, the state’s Department of Health Services reported 11,547 new cases were added to its dashboard on Wednesday. That total is more than 1,200 more cases than the previous record of 10,288 set the prior day.

The state’s seven-day average new case total is now 6,808 cases per day.

“Please get vaccinated & boosted, wear a mask, get tested & stay home when sick,” DHS tweeted.

More than half of Wisconsin counties are now seeing critically high COVID-19 activity, DHS said. Forty-seven of the state’s 72 counties, including its most populous — Milwaukee and Dane — are now in the critically high category.

In southern Wisconsin, all but Lafayette, Walworth, Richland, Marquette, Juneau and Adams counties are seeing critically high activity.

 

During a briefing on Thursday, Dr. Ryan Westergaard, DHS’ chief medical officer and state epidemiologist for communicable diseases, told reporters the numbers “are certainly an undercounting of the cases we have in Wisconsin” due to at-home COVID-19 tests.

Even though the Omicron variant appears to be less severe than other variants, he said more people getting infected is putting a strain on hospitals.

DHS’ dashboard shows the number of COVID-19 patients in Wisconsin hospitals increased by 12.5% between December 22 and January 4. Statewide, 91.5% of hospital beds and 94.8% of intensive care beds are in use.

RELATED: Madison hospitals at full capacity as COVID-19 continues to surge countywide

Madison’s three hospitals reported COVID-19 hospitalizations are tied with a previous peak of 179, and officials worry that number could continue to climb.

When asked if the focus should be on hospitalization numbers rather than case numbers as some, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have said, Westergaard said that while hospitalizations are “a more urgent indicator,” they shouldn’t be the only one.

“I disagree that we should not be paying attention to our case numbers at all,” he said. “When you have something that’s as complex as a pandemic that affects our society in so many complicated ways, you need multiple perspectives. And knowing how many people test positive has and continues to be a really important indicator of how much transmission is happening.”