'Bad combination:' Wisconsin's COVID-19 numbers continue to rise

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) recorded more than 4,800 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, Oct. 29 — and 51 deaths. 

Thursday's reported totals came in only second to Tuesday's numbers when Wisconsin surpassed 5,000 cases and 60 deaths. Health officials warn that Wisconsin cannot afford to continue heading in this direction.

"We’re in a tough spot, Wisconsin," Wisconsin DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems van Dijk said. 

Another day, another surge in cases; officials say 70 of Wisconsin's 72 counties are at "very high" levels of COVID-19 disease activity. It's a trend that is alarming state and local officials. 

"Our percent positive for testing is climbing along with increased testing numbers, which is a bad combination," said Dr. Ben Weston with the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management. 

Statewide, there are 74 COVID-19 community testing sites, including at Miller Park, which remained busy Thursday.

"We’ve collected over 725,000 specimens statewide since mass community testing began this spring," said Maj. Russell Simonis, Specimen Collection Action Team lead with the Wisconsin National Guard.

Drive-thru COVID-19 testing at Miller Park

However, DHS officials warn that a negative test does not mean you should disregard safety measures.

"What that test means is that you’re negative right now, at the moment you had the test," Willems van Dijk said. "Not a ticket to go to a Packer party, or to the bar."

With Halloween upon us and the holiday season fast-approaching, officials are pleading with Wisconsinites to take the COVID-19 numbers seriously.

"A long, prolonged holiday gathering with a lot of people in a house without masks and without physical distancing is a perfect petri dish for COVID-19," said van Dijk. "Those are the really hard facts that I think every family needs to have a frank discussion about."

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More than one million rapid tests have been sent to Wisconsin from the federal government -- with about 700,000 more still on the way. 

Those will primarily be used at long-term care facilities -- and in the health care field.

DHS: 1 in 5 WI hospitals reports critical staffing shortage

That means doctors and nurses who are at work have to put in even longer hours and take on even more patients at once. 

DHS: 4,870 new positive cases of COVID-19, 51 new deaths

State health officials reported 4,870 new positive cases of COVID-19 Thursday and 51 new deaths.

Gov. Evers announces 71 new free COVID-19 test sites

According to a news release from the governor's office, the new sites are intended to ensure consistent access to testing in all regions of the state.