Thursday, December 24, 2020

While COVID cases decline throughout Wisconsin, deaths stay up and testing stays down

While the rest of the country continues to set notorious records for new COVID cases, Wisconsin has seen its level of new positive tests go down in December. While we are still at levels that weren't reached until October, the number of new cases reported has gone down for each of the last 4 weeks.
And the trend of fewer cases seems to be showing up throughout the state. The 3 largest counties are still at elevated levels, but are definitely going down.
Northeastern Wisconsin and the I-41 corridor had some of the worst COVID outbreaks in the country last month, but the numbers are finally seeming to subside.
And counties with large UW on-campus populations are also seeing the numbers go down as the semester winds down.
BUT, there's a big caveat in all of these numbers, which is that testing totals have gone down. Maybe that reflects people not showing symptoms and not feeling they need to take a test, but the number of people being tested has also plummeted in the last month. This means that the rate of tests turning up positive aren't much lower at all.
And the major spike in cases for November continues to be reflected in a higher number of deaths, which are still happening at a rate of 60-70 a day in Wisconsin, with a record of 120 reported on Tuesday (which is the after the time period of this chart).
You put this together, and it tells me that by mid-January, we'll get a better idea if the COVID situation actually is improving in Wisconsin. If people are smart over the Holiday season, and cases keep falling, then we might be coming out the other side in a good way. But if deaths don't fall like the new cases numbers have in the last month, then it seems more likely that the decline in cases reflects a lack of testing more than a lack of infections, and an already-dreary COVID Winter will become even darker.

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