Wisconsin recorded its highest one-day total of new COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday and the first patient was admitted to a field hospital near Milwaukee that opened last week to help hospitals coping with the influx of patients.
The surge that began in early September showed no signs of slowing with 48 new deaths reported Wednesday and a whopping 43% of those tested coming back as positive.
There have been 1,681 deaths to date from the coronavirus pandemic while nearly 183,000 people have tested positive, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported. That is up by 4,205 from the day before, although department spokeswoman Jennifer Miller said there was still some backlog in the reporting of positive cases following a data upgrade over the weekend.
The seven-day average of new confirmed cases also reached a new record high of 3,444, which is nearly double what it was a month ago and nearly five times what it was two months ago. The 724.2 new cases per 100,000 people in Wisconsin over the past two weeks ranks the state fourth highest in the country for new cases per capita.
The number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Wisconsin also hit a record high on Tuesday, at 1,192, according to the Wisconsin Hospital Association. Of those, 315 were in intensive care.
On Wednesday, the state reported its first patient to the field hospital on the state fairgrounds in West Allis outside of Milwaukee. The state health department declined to reveal any details about the patient, citing privacy concerns.
“We are thankful to have this facility available to Wisconsinites and our hospitals, but also saddened that this is where Wisconsin is at today,” Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said in a statement. “Folks, please stay home. Help us protect our communities from this highly-contagious virus and avoid further strain on our hospitals.”
Also Wednesday, Public Health Madison and Dane County said it was moving in a “crisis model” for contact tracing because it could no longer efficiently follow up with everyone who had tested positive. Other counties around the state have taken similar steps amid a surge in the virus.
Dane County, the state's second largest, said contact tracers may no longer be able to follow up with everyone who has been in contact with a person who tests positive. The health department is asking people who test positive to notify their close contacts that they may have been exposed.