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Wisconsin's confirmed coronavirus cases double in less than a week, but officials say that doesn't mean 'safer at home' isn't working

Mica Soellner
Appleton Post-Crescent

Wisconsin's confirmed cases of coronavirus have doubled in less than a week, but the state's top health official cautioned Friday that a sharp increase doesn't mean staying home isn't working.

Friday's total of 842 positive cases was more than twice the total Monday, and 15 people had died of COVID-19 in Wisconsin by mid-day.

That rise may be due to the lag time of symptoms in patients who likely contracted coronavirus before Gov. Tony Evers' safer at home and school closure orders, said Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm in a briefing with reporters Friday.

"It will likely be several weeks before we're able to see the results of those efforts," Palm said.

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Palm previously said that without taking action to increase social distancing and reduce spread, there might've been 22,000 infections by April 8, possibly resulting in more than 1,000 deaths. 

Friday, DHS chief medical officer of communicable disease Ryan Westergaard said again that the total of confirmed cases will likely to continue to grow, but the goal is to arrive at a peak within the next two weeks.

"Right now is the critical time to implement (social distancing measures) so we don't let that peak get further away and higher down the road," he said.

Despite a shortage of tests in the state, Palm said the state is tracking about 2,000 tests a day among about 40 labs across the state.

This includes a number of clinical and hospital labs and some private labs, as officials continue to work to increase testing capacity, she said. 

Palm said they are continuing to see some potential shortages in some of the needed ingredients in testing. 

On Friday afternoon, confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state stood as follows:

  • 417 in Milwaukee County
  • 134 in Dane County
  • 61 in Waukesha County 
  • 27 in Washington County
  • 33 in Ozaukee County
  • 23 in Kenosha County
  • 19 in Fond du Lac County
  • 14 in La Crosse County
  • 12 in Rock County
  • Nine in Racine and Sauk counties
  • Seven in Sheboygan and Eau Claire counties
  • Six in Winnebago, Columbia, Dodge and Jefferson counties
  • Five in Walworth, Brown and Douglas counties
  • Four each in St. Croix, Pierce and Outagamie counties 
  • Three in Iowa, Green and Chippewa counties
  • Two in Bayfield, Dunn and Wood counties
  • One each in Calumet, Grant,  Marathon and Monroe counties

The state is collecting donations and offering buybacks for personal protective equipment at covid19supplies.wi.gov/Donations.

Contact Mica Soellner at 920-996-7226 or msoellner@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter at @micasoellner.