COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin have reached a new record, with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reporting 45 deaths and 3,815 new cases on Wednesday.

According to the DHS data summary of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin, the positivity rate has jumped to 27.2% — the highest that it has been since the start of the pandemic.

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Dr. Ryan Westergaard of the state health department called the increasing cases a “nightmare scenario” in a call with reporters from the Wisconsin State Journal. Westergaard stated it could still get worse before it gets better.

Katie Hardie

This increase in cases comes after Gov. Tony Evers, D-WI, and DHS issued a statewide order limiting indoor gatherings in early October to combat rising COVID-19 cases. These limits on indoor gatherings were appealed by a Wisconsin bar and Pro-Life Wisconsin, an anti-abortion group.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty also contested Evers’ mask mandate that tried to diminish cases in Wisconsin late last month, but the mandate was upheld by Polk County Judge Michael Waterman.

Master of Public Health Faculty Program Director and Associate Professor of Population Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin Ajay Sethi said a lot needs to be done in order to lower cases.

“I think one of the main things is for people across the board to pay attention to [increasing cases] and recognize that we took months to get to the first 100,000 cases but only 36 days to get to the next 100,000 cases,” Sethi said. “That should hopefully help people realize that we’re accelerating upwards in a terrible way and to remind themselves of what they’ve been hearing the whole time — stay at home if you can, and if you must go out, keep your distance and wear a mask.”

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While Madison’s cases have been decreasing, Sethi said every county is experiencing ups and downs.

Despite Madison’s downward trend in positive cases, Sethi said it is still reporting hundreds of cases a day. Sethi said this shouldn’t lead to complacency.

“When you’re already this high from where you need to be and thinking about June and July, when we were in a very different position in Dane County, up and down at this point, in my mind, it doesn’t matter,“ Sethi said. “We’re just too high.”

Wisconsin’s drastic increase in cases is not showing any signs of reaching a peak, Sethi said. Though the positive effects of following regulations will only be seen two weeks later due to the nature of the virus, Sethi said it is important that the public continues to follow these precautions.

Sethi said COVID-19 cases are in the hands of people and whether they choose to follow safety protocols or not.