Wisconsin’s average COVID-19 test positivity rate dips below 20% for first time since October

For the first time since October, Wisconsin’s average positivity rate for COVID-19 testing has fallen below 20%.

The positivity rate, which shows first-time positive tests over the last seven days, passed 20% on Oct. 10 as cases in the state were surging. It has remained high since, peaking at 38% in November.

The milestone comes as cases continue to decline from their mid-November peak. Health experts have said that a low positivity rate means enough people are getting tested to have an accurate picture of the level of disease in the state.

But Wednesday’s average positivity rate of 19.3% is still far from ideal. By state standards, a rate of 10% is considered high, and health experts aim for 5% or less.

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The seven-day case average of 1,517 is the lowest since Sept. 18. It is still more than double the average seen Sept. 1, before the autumn surge began.

After peaking in November, cases have largely declined, save for a post-Christmas rise. Since Jan. 11, the seven-day average has decreased every day.

Deaths from COVID-19 have remained high, however, with the seven-day death average staying at or above 25 since late October. Before the surge, the average rarely reached double digits.

New cases reported: 1,328

New deaths reported: 34

Number hospitalized: 734 (intensive care: 160); down 354 patients from one month ago

Seven-day average of daily cases: 1,517 (down 337 cases from one month ago)

Seven-day average of daily deaths: 32 (down five from one month ago)

Total cases since the start of pandemic: 536,546 (20,557 active cases)

Total deaths: 5,787

Vaccines

Total doses allocated to Wisconsin: 846,300

Total doses administered: 389,240

People who have received both doses: 74,629

Doses administered Tuesday: 21,897

The DHS updates the allocation number once a week on Tuesday. The number of doses administered is updated each weekday.

The numbers reported Wednesday represent the vaccinations in the registry as of late Tuesday night. DHS staff pulls data from the registry at 11:30 p.m. and reports the numbers at 2 p.m. the next day.

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January is already deadliest month of pandemic

Nationally, the 4,087 deaths from COVID-19 reported Tuesday — the fourth-highest day in the history of the pandemic — have already made January the deadliest month of the pandemic for the U.S., a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows

In the first 26 days of January, the U.S. reported 79,261 deaths. The total number of deaths in December, which had been the deadliest month, was 77,486. At this pace, January could end with about 94,500 reported deaths.

Some states have been ravaged. California’s previous worst month was 6,772 fatalities in December, but the state has already reported 12,282 dead in January.

USA TODAY contributed to this report.

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