A third of the state’s COVID-19 tests are coming back positive, doctors say numbers are out of control

NOW: A third of the state’s COVID-19 tests are coming back positive, doctors say numbers are out of control


MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- As of Wednesday, Nov. 18, the seven-day average for all people who have tested positive in Wisconsin is at more than 33-percent, according to Department of Health Services data. That means for every 10 tests, more than three end up being positive.

Some doctors say this unprecedented number is frightening.  They and other health officials are begging people not to get together because statistically, even gatherings with less than 10 people pose a risk for further spread.

“If you look at other parts of the world or the country, these kinds of percent positives, I mean you would be justified in a complete lockdown. It’s just out of control numbers,” said Dr. Jeff Pothof, chief quality officer & emergency medicine physician at UW Health.

While a third of tests being positive is alarming, Dr. Pothof says there’s an even bigger chance that if you have cold-like symptoms, you likely have COVID-19.

“Is flu here yet? Is it some other virus? But actually right now people who are getting tested for respiratory symptoms -- 99.5 percent of it is COVID-19,” he said.

Dr. Pothof calls it a “crazy prevalence” of COVID-19 in Wisconsin communities.

“You’re going to hear more and more stories of people who get sick and just have no idea where they got it from because it is everywhere,” he added.

Tim Cigelske and his family are now recovering from COVID-19.

“No exposure to any known or suspected cases, and to this day we still have no idea how or where we were infected,” said Cigelske.

Cigelske says he and his wife work from home, follow safety measures and wear masks when going out. He says his kids were going to school in a hybrid model when they all tested positive.

“Body felt like it weighed a thousand pounds, my eyes felt like someone was pushing into my sockets and my nose was on fire,” Cigelske said.

Dr. Pothof says at this point, people’s decisions to gather could impact the ability for others to get health care with the surge hospitals are experiencing.

“It is everywhere. There is nowhere you can go, there is nowhere where you live in the state where you are not surrounded by COVID-19 right now,” said Dr. Pothof.

“My advice is to take symptoms seriously—even if it’s a tickle in your throat, go get tested and isolate yourself right away to keep others safe,” Cigelske said.

Dr. Pothof also wants to remind people that while there are a lot of people with COVID-19 that don’t look sick, you might not be that lucky if you get it.

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