Wisconsin reported 1,696 new coronavirus cases Monday as the virus continued to rampage across the state.
The state Department of Health Services also reported four deaths, bringing the death toll to 1,381.
Mondays typically turn out the lowest case counts of the week, as fewer tests are conducted and processed over the weekend. Still, the nearly 1,700 tests reported Monday make it the second-highest Monday case count ever — behind last week.
The number of new daily cases over the last seven days was 2,395. The seven-day average statistic is meant to smooth out anomalies in the data and better represent current trends.
Wisconsin continues to grapple with one of the country’s worst outbreaks. Northeast and central Wisconsin especially are dealing with explosive case growth and a rapid rise in hospitalizations that has put hospitals in the region near capacity. Some have diverted patients to other locations or treated them on gurneys in the hallway.
As of Monday, 782 people were hospitalized due to the virus across the state, 142 more people than just a week prior and an all-time high. There were 209 coronavirus patients in ICUs.
One month ago, on Sept. 5, 275 people were hospitalized statewide with the virus.
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“This increase has been exponential,” Matt Heywood, president of the Wausau-based Aspirus hospital system, said Monday in a news conference.
Aspirus three weeks ago was treating about 10 coronavirus patients. It is now treating 60 to 80 patients across its system, Heywood said.
Heywood said administrators have done their best to get people healthy and send them home, but soon after another wave of sick patients comes in.
“The likelihood is that, right now, it’s continuing to rise,” Heywood said. “I would not go and say that it’s going to go and start dropping soon.”
Heywood said Aspirus is getting close to reaching capacity for its COVID-designated beds. The health system has a plan that allows for hospitals to convert other beds, such as medical-surgical beds, to use for COVID-19 patients if needed.
However, doing so means hospitals must delay elective and nonessential surgeries to free up the beds, Heywood said. For now, Aspirus is still trying to accommodate those patients because administrators have learned that not doing those procedures can be just as detrimental as not being able to care for COVID-19 patients, Heywood said.
“We’ve got to balance community needs, and we’re working to do that,” Heywood said.
Case growth among young people slows, older age groups rise
Compared with the week prior, young people make up a smaller share of new positive cases, according to DHS data.
People ages 10-29 made up 29% of new cases over the last seven days, compared with 36% the week prior. All other age groups jumped from 64% to 71% of the total new case counts, week over week.
People under 30 made up nearly half of new coronavirus cases in mid-September after schools and universities reopened, but new cases among two young age groups — 10 to 19 and 20 to 29 — have declined slightly week over week.
Meanwhile, residents ages 40 and up saw a rise in cases of about 25% to 35% compared with the week prior, according to DHS data.
In accounting for the outbreak that quickly has overrun the state, officials have blamed large gatherings and behavior that suggests Wisconsinites are not taking the pandemic seriously.
On Monday the state ranked third in the U.S., behind North and South Dakota, in a New York Times analysis of highest weekly case counts per capita.
The Oshkosh, Green Bay and Appleton metro areas were among the top five metro areas in the country with the highest daily case counts when adjusting for population, according to the New York Times. Seven metro areas in Wisconsin made the top 20. No other state had more than two metro areas on the list.
Lines at the National Guard testing site in Oshkosh were three to four hours long Monday morning, officials said.
The site, at Sunnyview Expo Center, is the only public testing site in the Fox Valley. Other testing sites in the area are associated with hospital systems or pharmacies and require appointments.
More than 1.6 million people have been tested statewide for the virus. Of the 134,359 Wisconsinites who have tested positive:
- 80.7%, or 107,004, have “recovered” by DHS standards, meaning there is documented proof their symptoms have resolved or it’s been 30 days since their diagnosis.
- 18.3%, or 24,264, are considered “active,” meaning they aren’t recovered and haven’t died.
Melissa Siegler of the USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin contributed to this report.