The Tension Between Two Infection Measures And The State’s Plan To Relax Public Health Guidelines
By Will Cushman
May 5, 2020
Nearly six weeks after sweeping restrictions on public life in Wisconsin went into effect to arrest the pace of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state reported a record number of new cases of the deadly disease on May 1. The total of 460 easily surpassed the previous peak of new daily cases reported only the previous day.
But as capacity to test for COVID-19 expands in Wisconsin, how do daily case counts reflect the severity of an outbreak? How much do they signal a public health system that’s becoming better equipped at tracking the disease?
Put more simply: Is Wisconsin finding more cases of COVID-19 because more people are becoming infected with the virus that causes it, or because more people are being tested for it?
Answers to this question are anything but simple. They hint at the inherent uncertainty that epidemiologists run up against as they analyze limited information to try to understand how the pandemic is affecting Wisconsin.