Jeramey Jannene

New Chart Shows Wisconsin’s True COVID-19 Testing Utilization

Daily figures from DHS have filtered out duplicates, repeats.

By - Aug 15th, 2020 06:15 pm
Specimens Testing Versus Capacity in Wisconsin. Image from the Department of Health Services.

Specimens Testing Versus Capacity in Wisconsin. Image from the Department of Health Services.New Chart Shows Wisconsin’s True Testing Utilization

The daily COVID-19 data release from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services has always filtered out duplicates. The aim, through the state’s electronic records system, is that when DHS reports 65,056 positive cases that actually means 65,056 Wisconsin residents have tested positive for the disease.

The daily report filters out people who are hospitalized patients that are being frequently retested, people receiving multiple tests because of concerns with symptoms, non-Wisconsin residents and people visiting one of the community testing sites multiple times with the same result.

Simply put, the number of processed tests reported every day by DHS undercounts the number of tests actually performed in the state.

A new, interactive chart added to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard attempts to close the data gap, showing the number of tests completed versus the reported lab capacity.

The graph paints a much different picture than has been previously available.

On multiple days in each of the past five weeks labs across the state have processed over 20,000 tests combined, while DHS has never reported a figure over 18,138. The result is a state that is much closer to using its reported daily testing capacity of approximately 24,000 than previously thought.

It is impossible to draw direct comparisons between the daily DHS figures and the figures on the new chart because of a timing issue. DHS releases its filtered report at 2 p.m. each day, with results representing the afternoon and evening of the day prior as well as the morning of the current day. The chart follows the calendar.

But regardless of the ability to make an exact comparison, there is a pronounced, consistent gap. On August 13th DHS reported a filtered total of 12,415 processed tests (combined with the next day, an average of 11,427). How many tests were actually run on August 13th? 21,401.

Both the filtered tables and actual tests processed show the same mid-week surge with a sharp decline on the weekend.

Both also show that the number of tests processed in the past two weeks falling.

Aurora Advocate Health Care has temporarily stopped performing precautionary tests and limited other testings as it faces a delay in receiving new reagents. The state reported capacity from the 83 labs performing tests dropped from 24,178 daily tests to 23,898 on the 12th.

If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here.

Categories: Health

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us