Wisconsin COVID-19 numbers trend up, DHS cites more testing and facility investigations

Posted at 10:49 PM, May 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-01 23:49:25-04

Wisconsin's COVID-19 trend is up. On Friday, state data showed 3,632 new test results and the highest percentage of new positive cases to date.

The Department of Health services reports for the day 3,172 people tested negative and positive cases hit a new high of 460.

State officials have said there needs to be a 14-day downward trajectory of coronavirus case numbers as a percentage of total tests before lifting the Safer at Home order and beginning to reopen.

DHS says the increase is tied to increased testing and ongoing facility investigations.

"That's a trend that we need to watch," said Dr. John Raymond, President of the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Dr. Raymond spoke about the increase during a scheduled briefing Friday.

"I attribute those primarily to our increased testing capacity and perhaps the increased surveillance and vigilance in institutional settings," said Dr. Raymond.

There are currently 187 facility-wide public health investigations underway at facilities across Wisconsin, that includes settings like nursing homes and workplaces. The state's southeastern region has the bulk of them with 113.

However, the state's published data does not specify the locations where investigations are taking place.

"There’s greater opportunities for an infection in areas where there’s close congregation," said Dr. Jeanette Kowalik, Milwaukee's Commissioner of Health.

On Friday, health officials announced 85 employees at the Patrick Cudahy plant tested positive for COVID-19. There 31 tests still pending.

The facility closed mid-April for cleaning due to COVID-19 cases. A spokesperson with Smithfield Foods which operates the plant said they plan to reopen Monday, May 4.

"We haven't had direct contact with workers at Patrick Cudahy, but we have been working with workers in 4 meatpacking plants here in Wisconsin," said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera.

Voces de la Frontera is advocating for changes to keep workers at similar facilities safe. The group is working with thousands of workers to push for more protections at food processing plants.

"People are feeling tremendous fear and concern because they're coming out positive. They're going home and in many cases, they're infecting their children. They're infecting their spouse," said Neumann-Ortiz.

Dr. Kowalik said they and other groups are working to provide businesses with guidance on workers' safety and preventing the virus' spread.

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Coronavirus in Wisconsin

More data on Wisconsin's vaccination progress here.

Find a vaccination site here.

Check out county-by-county coronavirus case numbers here.

More information: COVID-19 on the Wisconsin DHS website

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