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Wisconsin And Maryland Have Similar Populations, But COVID-19 Cases Are 6X Higher In One State

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- For the first time since September, Maryland's daily coronavirus count grew by nearly 900 cases. Hospitalizations have also ticked up by 17% over the last two weeks and intensive care case levels are up 2.94%.

But in hard-hit Wisconsin, their COVID-19 case count is almost six times higher.

Both have populations of around six million -- 2019 census estimates put Maryland at 6,045,680 and Wisconsin at 5,822,434.

On Tuesday, Wisconsin reported 5,262 new COVID-19 cases in a single day, a record high and nearly six times higher than the 897 Maryland saw.

The Badger State's seven-day positivity rate -- calculated based on the total number of tests conducted -- was reported to be 12.9% Tuesday, nearly four times higher than Maryland's rate of 3.35%. Wisconsin's positivity rate based on tests per person, rather than total tests, hit 25.7%.

Wisconsin's positive case total climbed to 206,311, 64,570 cases more than Maryland.

Maryland's first wave of the virus was its more devastating; the state's calculation of the seven-day positivity rate peaked on April 17 at 26.88%. On the same day, the Badger State's weekly positivity rate was just 9.6%.


Fast forward six months to October and the tables have turned; since bottoming out around 3% in June, Wisconsin's positivity rate has continued to climb to its new record of 12.9%. Maryland, meanwhile, has had a seven-day average positivity rate below 4% since early August.

Since the start of the pandemic, Maryland has conducted more than 1.3 million more tests than Wisconsin as well.

One metric where Wisconsin fares better is the total number of coronavirus-related deaths. The Badger State reported 64 deaths on Tuesday, bringing the state's total to 1,852. That's less than half of Maryland's 3,962 deaths.

Policy Differences, Court Challenges

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, issued an order on March 16 forcing bars, restaurants and other businesses to close. On March 23, he issued a further executive order closing all non-essential businesses, though he didn't go as far as calling it a "stay-at-home" order.

Two days later on March 25, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, issued a "safer-at-home" order prohibiting all non-essential travel. Non-essential businesses were also closed.

On May 13, Wisconsin's Supreme Court struck down the safer-at-home order and did not allow the state to implement its multi-phase Badger Bounce Back reopening plan.

Maryland continued on with Hogan's Roadmap to Recovery plan, with the governor lighting the stay-at-home order effective May 16 and replacing it with a safer-at-home advisory.


On June 5, much of Maryland moved to the second phase of its reopening plan, allowing some small retailers, banks, manufacturers and construction crews to return to work. In September, Hogan announced the state could move to the third phase, increasing allowed capacities at churches, retail stores and entertainment venues, though some jurisdictions have still not fully moved to phase three.

On July 30, Evers issued a statewide mask mandate that drew a legal challenge. Earlier this month, a judge declined a request to put in place a restraining order that would have stopped the mandate from being enforced, CBS Chicago reported.

Maryland's expanded mask mandate, which requires those ages five and older to wear a mask in public areas of businesses and buildings and in outdoor public areas when it is not possible to maintain social distancing, took effect on July 31. An earlier order requiring Marylanders to wear masks in retail stores and on public transportation took effect on April 18.

Last week, a Wisconsin appeals court blocked an October 6 order from Evers that would have limited the capacity on indoor public gatherings pending an appeal, WCCO-TV reported.

Health experts have blamed much of Wisconsin's woes on schools and colleges reopening as well as residents' fatigue with coronavirus guidelines, CBS Chicago reported. Most schools in Maryland began the school year with online-only learning.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department's website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ's coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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