By Shereen Siewert

Wisconsin now has 842 confirmed cases of COVID-19, though about 10 times more people are likely infected, health officials said Friday during a news briefing.

The death toll also rose from 8 to 13 since Thursday, according to DHS figures. The infection rate is more than a 100-case jump in 24 hours.

Department of Heath Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said there have been 13,140 negative tests. According to health care professionals, the high ratio of negative-to-positive tests is in line with what they’d expect early in an epidemic.

Palm said earlier models showed that without “Safer at Home” and social distancing action the state would have 22,000 infections by April 8.

“Now is the time to do everything we can to flatten the curve,” Palm said. “Lives truly do depend on it.”

Marathon County remains at one confirmed case. Iron County, which did not report a positive case until this morning, reported its first death overnight. The death is Iron County is the first in northern Wisconsin.

People who died from COVID-19 complications in Wisconsin range in age from 60 to 80, Palm said.

About 2,000 tests per day are being tracked statewide. Efforts are underway to increase capacity, but the state continues to see shortages in tests and ingredients in the tests at this time, Palm said.

In Wisconsin testing is prioritized for critically ill patients with unexplained respiratory symptoms and patients who are hospitalized with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 who have either had known exposure to the virus or who’ve traveled to a high-risk area.

But these patients account for a relatively small percentage of the total COVID-19 tests that are being administered in Wisconsin.

Dr. Ryan Westergaard, Chief Medical Officer of the Bureau of Communicable Diseases, said that “possibly as many as 10 times more people” could be infected in Wisconsin, based on scientific models. Not everyone is being tested because resources are being preserved for the “subset of people who need it most.”

Westergaard characterized the risk in all Wisconsin counties as high.

 

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