Cases of COVID-19 have spiked recently in the state since universities began having students on campus, with Wisconsin’s total of new cases numbering 1,547 on Thursday alone.
That number also marks the highest reported since the start of the pandemic in mid-March.
The positive rate for cases also is striking all-time highs in Wisconsin, with 17.4 percent recorded Thursday.
More than 100 students have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of classes last week at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. However, there are no current plans for any in-person class changes at this time.
This week, 69 students and two other members of campus who are not employees tested positive for the coronavirus. This comes after 51 students tested positive last week.
Jeff Angileri, director of university communications for the university, said there were no operational changes to report as of this week.
But the true rate of cases in the Badger State could be even higher. Back at the start of August, the state was testing almost 15,000 people a day. On Friday, only a little more than half that number were tested.
Jefferson County also surpassed the 1,000 case mark this week with 1,026 positive test results since March, a mark Dodge County, which has 1,348 now, passed in late August.
It is not known whether the cases from UW-Whitewater are included in Jefferson County, Walworth County or other counties’ numbers. Statewide, cases have been counted in the patient’s home county, so it is likely the students’ numbers will be added to the county in which their permanent address is located.
Since college students started returning to classes last week, there have been outbreaks of the virus throughout the UW System, with the worst being at UW-Madison, which now has moved classes to online only and is quarantining students in two of its largest dorms.
According to UW-Madison data, 1,044 students and 26 employees have tested positive for the virus since Aug. 6. The city-county public health department said there are at least 46 separate outbreaks currently tied to UW-Madison.
Chancellor Rebecca Blank ordered the 2,230 residents living in Sellery Hall and Witte Hall to quarantine for 14 days, starting at 10 p.m. Wednesday, the State Journal reported.
“I share the disappointment and frustration of students and employees who had hoped we might enjoy these first few weeks of the academic year together,” Blank said. “Before we started this semester, we knew that no plan would be risk-free in the current environment.”
Blank ordered an end to in-person classes through at least Sept. 25.
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi demanded Wednesday that the university immediately send all undergraduates living on campus home in an attempt to contain the coronavirus.
UW-Madison said it doesn’t believe such a step is warranted at this time, system spokesman Mark Pitsch said.
Rep. Barbara Dittrich, R-Oconomowoc, said that students should be able to get a full and prompt refund if they seek that.
“My duty is to constituents and to Wisconsinites who have put their educational trust in our universities,” said Dittrich, who represents the 38th state Assembly District. “With that, I urge our UW System, in the strongest of terms, to meet any impediment to our students’ choices of educational options and housing with a full, prompt refund. To do otherwise would mean committing a fraud upon those who have turned to our state universities in pursuit of a quality education.”
Since the start of the pandemic, 84,881 cases of the virus have been reported in the state.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.