Yahoo news goes off the rails again, this time about a Wisconsin “COVID Record!”
Yahoo reported Wisconsin saw a “record number of new coronavirus cases and deaths today.” This was a bit confusing as they said “Wisconsin saw a record number of new coronavirus cases and deaths reported in a single day on Wednesday, two weeks after the state’s Supreme Court struck down its statewide stay-at-home order.” This seemed to imply there were a record number of daily cases of COVID virus infections in Wisconsin as a direct response to reversing social distancing requirements. This was reportedly “the highest recorded daily rise since the pandemic began there.”
In fact, the Wisconsin numbers tell a very different story.
The state reported 599 new known COVID-19 cases on Wednesday with 22 known deaths, for the entire, prior week, according to Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services. The previous record of new coronavirus cases in a week was 528 the week prior, so this was an increase of only 13%. There were also 22 new deaths in the prior week. Since as of Wednesday, the state had more than 16,460 known cases and 539 known deaths, these increases were not remarkable, and the number of deaths was not a “record.”
But even more important was the next sentence in the article. “Wisconsin also issued a record number of test results Wednesday, with more than 10,300 tests conducted, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health and Human Services.” It might be logical to assume if the number of tests performed increase, then the number of positive tests would increase as well even if the proportion of positive tests did not change. Unfortunately, this data was not available from either the Wisconsin HHS or Yahoo.
What is documented is that COVID cases in Wisconsin remain clustered in areas where the virus was originally identified. This suggests that the end of social distancing has not altered the spread of the virus.
It is therefore important to note that a small increase in positive COVID-19 tests without evidence of other changes in the dynamic of the pandemic actually argues against a “second wave” of COVID in Wisconsin related to the relaxation of social distancing rules.