Only one county in Wisconsin still has ‘critical’ COVID-19 activity

(NBC15)
Published: Feb. 16, 2022 at 2:28 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 16, 2022 at 2:31 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - For the first time this year, COVID-19 isn’t critical in Wisconsin.

New numbers from the state Dept. of Health Services show the statewide COVID-19 case activity level dropped below the threshold for being considered ‘critically high.’ That’s the most severe category on the agency’s scale.

It passed into that territory right before Christmas and at one point sat four times higher than the cutoff dividing ‘critically high’ from the lower ‘very high.’ Of course, even though Wisconsin is no longer in critical condition, COVID-19 spread is still ‘very high.’

DHS officials measure case activity each week based on the total number of cases over the preceding two weeks per 100,000 people. To be considered ‘critical’ the state or a county would have to have a burden exceeding 1,000 cases per 100,000 people.

Last week, Wisconsin’s statewide burden was less than 10 percent higher than that line. Now, after a 42 percent drop, it is less than two-thirds of that threshold, falling all the way to 612.3 cases per 100,000 people.

Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services COVID-19 daily tracker on Feb. 16, 2022.
Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services COVID-19 daily tracker on Feb. 16, 2022.(Dept. of Health Services)

County-wide COVID-19 Collapse

For four weeks during that span, every single one of Wisconsin’s 72 counties was also lit up in the red that state health officials use to denote ‘critical activity.’ That streak finally broke last week when 16 counties turned the orange on the DHS map, showing they dipped into ‘very high’ status. At that time, all but two counties were seeing declining case activity.

Now, it’s practically reversed itself. All but one county has fallen into the “very high” range. Douglas county was the only red county and even that was by the slightest margins. DHS numbers showed that county with a case burden of 1,004.5 per 100,000 people. The overwhelming share of counties that saw notably shrinking activity rates did shift with 13 of them leveling off and considered as having not changed significantly. Still though, no county is seeing rising rates.

Dane Co. remains higher than the state level, at 834, but local health officials have pointed out recently that while the county is seeing higher than average cases, its death rate remains lower. A statement from Public Health Madison and Dane Co. credited that fact in part to the county’s state-leading vaccination rate.

Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services COVID-19 daily tracker on Feb. 16, 2022.
Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services COVID-19 daily tracker on Feb. 16, 2022.(Dept. of Health Services)

Latest figures

DHS officials measure case activity each week based on the total number of cases over the preceding two weeks per 100,000 people. To be considered ‘critical’ the state or a county would have to have a burden exceeding 1,000 cases per 100,000 people.

New Cases

Reflecting the dramatic decline in case activity is the ongoing decline in the state’s seven-day rolling-average, which now sits at its lowest point since mid-September.

On Wednesday, state health officials recorded 1,602 new confirmed cases. As a result, the rolling-average slid again, to 1,629 cases per day over the preceding week. The newest cases pushed the total case count to 1,371,694 since the pandemic began.

The rolling-average for new deaths related to COVID-19 continued its own steep decline. The average ticked down again to 11 deaths per day over the past seven days, which is the lowest number recorded since the early days of November and less than a third of where it stood just over two weeks ago.

Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services COVID-19 daily tracker on Feb. 16, 2022.
Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services COVID-19 daily tracker on Feb. 16, 2022.(Dept. of Health Services)

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