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Wisconsin Sets Records For Coronavirus Cases, Hospitalizations

Scott Olson
Getty Images
A member of the Wisconsin National Guard helps to test residents for the coronavirus COVID-19 at a temporary test site set up at Barack Obama School on Oct. 9 in Milwaukee.

Updated at 4:24 p.m. CT 

Wisconsin hit a new daily high for confirmed coronavirus cases and hospitalizations on Thursday, a surge that the state's chief health officer called a crisis.

There were 3,747 new cases reported Thursday, blowing past the record of 3,279 set on Tuesday. The number of people hospitalized continued its steady increase this week, rising to a new all-time high of 1,043.

“This is going to get worse before it gets better,” said Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm. “Wisconsin is in crisis and we need to take this seriously.”

To date, the state has had more than 162,000 confirmed cases and 1,553 deaths from the disease since the start of the pandemic. The state opened a field hospital outside of Milwaukee on Wednesday to handle overflow patients.

As of Thursday afternoon, the field hospital had yet to admit anyone, Palm said.

Wisconsin's surge began in early September when the seven-day average of new cases was around 700. Two weeks later, that had doubled and it is now 2,927, Palm said.

Wisconsin's death toll is the nation's 29th highest and the 42nd highest per capita. Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by nearly 22%. There were nearly 625 new cases per 100,000 people in Wisconsin over the past two weeks, which was the fourth-highest of any state.

Gov. Tony Evers last week issued an order limiting capacity at many indoor places, including bars and restaurants. A judge earlier this week blocked that order in response to a lawsuit filed by the Tavern League of Wisconsin. Republican lawmakers and the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty have sued to end the statewide mask mandate.

Both lawsuits argue that Evers exceeded his authority with the orders.

As he has done since the pandemic began, Evers urged Republicans fighting him in court and everyone in the state to take the virus seriously and to work together to curb the spread.

“We can prevent deaths," Evers said. "I don't know how anyone in the state of Wisconsin can feel comfortable about saying 'What the hell, I don't care about preventing deaths.' That is unimaginable to me. So, we have to step it up.”

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