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Wisconsin Posts Record Number Of COVID-19 Cases With 3,747; Positivity Rate Nears 21%

MADISON, Wis. (CBS/AP) -- Wisconsin hit a new record number of COVID-19 cases on Thursday, with 3,747 new cases.

The state also reported nine new deaths.

The cases were out of 15,202 tests. Illinois reported more positive cases than Wisconsin on Thursday – also setting a record at 4,015 – but out of 67,086 tests.

For tests by person, the seven-day coronavirus positivity rate through Wednesday is 20.8 percent.

The number of people hospitalized continued its steady increase this week, rising to a new all-time high of 1,043.

"This is going to get worse before it gets better," said Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm. "Wisconsin is in crisis and we need to take this seriously."

To date, the state has had more than 162,000 confirmed cases and 1,553 deaths from the disease since the start of the pandemic. The state opened a field hospital outside of Milwaukee on Wednesday to handle overflow patients.

As of Thursday afternoon, the field hospital had yet to admit anyone, Palm said.

Wisconsin's surge began in early September when the seven-day average of new cases was around 700. Two weeks later, that had doubled and it is now 2,927, Palm said.

Wisconsin's death toll is the nation's 29th highest and the 42nd highest per capita. Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by nearly 22 percent. There were nearly 625 new cases per 100,000 people in Wisconsin over the past two weeks, which was the fourth-highest of any state.

Gov. Tony Evers last week issued an order limiting capacity at many indoor places, including bars and restaurants. A judge earlier this week blocked that order in response to a lawsuit filed by the Tavern League of Wisconsin. Republican lawmakers and the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty have sued to end the statewide mask mandate.

Both lawsuits argue that Evers exceeded his authority with the orders.

As he has done since the pandemic began, Evers urged Republicans fighting him in court and everyone in the state to take the virus seriously and to work together to curb the spread.

"We can prevent deaths," Evers said. "I don't know how anyone in the state of Wisconsin can feel comfortable about saying 'What the hell, I don't care about preventing deaths.' That is unimaginable to me. So, we have to step it up."

Indiana also set a new COVID-19 case record on Thursday with 1,962 cases. Michigan also set a record with 2,030, as did Ohio at 2,178.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CBS News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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