By Shereen Siewert

The death toll related to COVID-19 climbed to 71 in Marathon County on Friday, with 692 new infections reported over the past five days.

According to the Marathon County Health Department, 274 people have been hospitalized locally during the course of the pandemic, 27 of whom were admitted just this week.

Health officials caution that only the most critically ill patients are hospitalized. Some patients are reporting symptoms that come in waves that last six months or more.

There is some good news to share. In Marathon County, of the 6,269 infections reported since March, nearly half have moved from “active” to “recovered.” This week, 520 patients moved from the active to recovered category, from 2,484 to 3,004, health officials said.

Also on Friday, a state appeals court ruled that an order from Gov. Tony Evers’ administration to limit how many people can gather in bars, restaurants and other indoor venues was invalid and unenforceable. The on again-off again order, first issued on Oct. 6, had not been in effect since an appeals court blocked it on Oct. 23.

The order, had it been in effect, was scheduled to expire on Friday. The appeals court said the order should have gone through the rule-making process, which requires legislative approval.

Evers said he issued the order as a way to curb the spread of the virus, which has been surging since mid-September. On Friday, there were 6,141 new cases statewide, an all-time daily high, and 62 more deaths in Wisconsin. To date, 2,256 Wisconsin residents have died from the virus.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.