New COVID-19 case average dips below 8K for first time in weeks – WMTV

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – A Wisconsin-based health system highlighted positive trends that have slowly emerged over recent days, with one of its top officials saying they were “cautiously optimistic” when it comes to the effects of the omicron variant.

Aspirus Senior Vice President Jeff Wicklander acknowledged the health systems still receives a flood of people wanting to be tested or arriving at its emergency rooms, but went on to say that “the level of ICU acuity is less” when compared to the Delta variant.” The health system also indicated that at least one of its facilities, Asipirus Divine Savior, in Portage, has seen its average ICU stays drop by more than half.

After noting that the number of its COVID-19 patients receiving ICU-level treatment dropped by a nearly a third since its peak earlier this month, Wicklander noted that its lab has seen a slight dip from approximately week ago when nearly four in ten COVID-19 tests it performed came back positive. Aspirus described percent-positive a good indicator of future hospitalizations, with Wicklander explaining why it offers them and other health officials a glimpse of the light at the end of the COVID tunnel.

“Typically, when we have a big increase in our community positivity rates, for the next two weeks we’ll see an increase in hospitalizations,” Wicklander said. “However, we’re really not seeing that with omicron.”

Despite the reason for optimism, Aspirius did note that the 139 patients hospitalized – 86 of whom were unvaccinated – across its system is “on par with the highest level” it has recorded so far.

In addition to the experiences detailed by Aspirus on Thursday, the Dept. of Health Services’ daily report also pointed to some positive trends as well. For the first time in more than two weeks, the seven-day rolling average for new cases fell below 8,000 confirmed cases per day. That takes it below the levels DHS was reporting under the previous system in which not all cases were being reported in real time.

Dept. of Health Services daily COVID-19 report, on Jan. 27, 2022/(Dept. of Health Services)

According to DHS’ latest dashboard update, state health officials tallied 8,085 cases on Thursday, dropping the seven-day rolling average by more than 1,000 cases to 7,958 cases per day over the past week. Additionally, the five straight days that single day case reports have been below 10,000 is the longest such stretch since late December.

Conversely, while the same 7,958 cases per day is low by 2022 standards so far, it is still far higher than any point prior to this year. It sits more than 1,000 cases per day higher than the November 2020 peak that ranked as the worst days of the pandemic in Wisconsin until this latest surge. Additionally, while it took around 20 months for the state to record its first one million cases, the next 300,000 were tallied in approximately four weeks.

Dept. of Health Services daily COVID-19 report, on Jan. 27, 2022/(Dept. of Health Services)

In addition to the growing cases, the new report also found the statewide death toll from COVID-19 nearing 11,000 since the pandemic began (10,997). DHS puts the seven-day rolling average of people who died from COVID-19 or complications linked to the virus at 30 per day over the preceding week, which is at the high end of the recent surge. Unlike case counts which outstripped all historical precedent, the rolling averages here are still lower than late 2020 when state health officials were reporting 50 per day, on average.

Finally, and in line with Aspirus anecdotal experience, DHS latest hospitalization report showed both southern Wisconsin regions had fewer numbers of patients hospitalized and in ICU units. In all, three of the seven state regions were shrinking, state health officials reported, while none of the other four were considered to be growing. Nearly half of hospitals (47.5%), though, are operating at overall peak capacity, and over three-quarters of them are reporting their ICUs are full.

Dept. of Health Services daily COVID-19 report, on Jan. 27, 2022/(Dept. of Health Services)

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