DHS adds ‘critically high’ category to Wisconsin COVID-19 activity dashboard


(WFRV) – The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has added a new category to its COVID-19 Disease Activity Dashboard as cases continue to rise statewide.

On Wednesday, health officials added a “critically high” category “to give Wisconsinites a better picture of the impact of COVID-19 in our state amidst a surge in activity.”

According to DHS, the new category is nearly three times higher than the “very high.”

Both the state and 65 of its 72 counties are at this “critically high” level as of Nov. 11.

DHS is also providing new testing data, now available at the county level, to provide further insights about the COVID-19 infections in communities. The updated dashboard includes the number of daily tests administered by region and county as well as the seven-day average tests administered and test positivity.

“Far too many of our communities are in a dire situation,” says DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk. “To put these new data in perspective, Wisconsin is now seeing more average cases per day than New York City did at the peak of its surge last spring. Because of these critically high levels of disease, public health can no longer adequately contact trace, hospital beds are filled with patients with COVID-19, and too many Wisconsin families are losing loved ones to this virus. By helping people see the critically high level of disease in their counties and regions, we hope these data enhancements will help people make important decisions to stay home in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

DHS has added a feature for daily cases and deaths as well as cumulative cases and deaths on the County Data page.

“With the growing use of antigen tests, especially in group and outbreak settings, there will likely be an increase in the number of probable cases,” DHS reports.

“A probable case of COVID-19 is anyone who is not positive by a confirmatory laboratory test method (like a PCR or NAT test), but has met one of the following criteria:

  1. Positive test result from an antigen test;
  2. Symptoms of COVID-19 and known exposure to COVID-19 (such as being a close contact of someone diagnosed with COVID-19); or
  3. COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 is listed on the death certificate. Any positive test result by antigen testing is counted as a probable COVID-19 case because antigen tests are not as accurate as other diagnostic tests, such as PCR and NAT tests. In particular, antigen tests are less accurate at identifying positive cases – meaning, someone who tests negative but has symptoms or is a close contact of a positive case may need to be tested again.”

According to DHS, a probable death due to COVID-19 includes anyone who is reported to have died from causes related to COVID-19. It also includes those who have a death certificate that lists COVID-19 disease or SARS-CoV-2 as an underlying cause of death or a significant condition contributing to death is reported to DHS but WEDSS has no record of confirmatory laboratory evidence for SARS-CoV-2.

All Northeast Wisconsin counties are experiencing critically high levels of COVID-19 activity.

Brown, Outagamie, and Waupaca counties are experiencing a growing trajectory in disease activity. Calumet, Door, Fond du Lac, Manitowoc, Marinette, Oconto, Shawano, Sheboygan, and Winnebago counties reported no significant change in disease activity while Kewaunee County reported a shrinking disease activity.

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