The seven-day average of new cases of COVID-19 has nearly doubled over the last two weeks in Wisconsin and has increased 123% from where the state was a month ago, according to Karen Timberlake, secretary-designee of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

The seven-day average of new cases was 2,857 on Wednesday, Sept. 22, up 1,864 from the previous week. The figure measures the average number of new cases per day over the previous week. An increase indicates the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in the state is going up, according to DHS.

Hospitalizations as a result of COVID-19 grew to 1,079 people, up from 1,048 the previous week based on a rolling seven-day average, DHS reported Wednesday.

Among the people hospitalized, 328 are being treated in intensive care units, up from 320 the week before, DHS reported.

"Today, only about 5% of beds in our intensive care units are available and 5% of medical-surgical beds are available," Timberlake said during a media briefing Wednesday. "And reports on pressures on staffing and staff availability are coming in from hospitals and long-term care providers all across Wisconsin."

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Timberlake said the surge in cases and pressures on medical facilities are due to the highly-contagious delta variant.

"The delta variant came in and really changed everything," said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer of the DHS Bureau of Communicable Diseases.

In India, the delta surge was more severe in terms of severity of illness and death, and right now Wisconsin is half as bad as the surge last winter, Westergaard said.

"We've not seen anything reassuring right now that we're not headed in that same direction," Westergaard said. "It does make a difference in how we respond. If we use the prevention strategy, we maximize vaccination, we have the best chance of minimizing this surge. Where we are right now is on the uphill."

The news comes as an increasing number of counties are listed as having critically high rates of COVID-19 infection for the two-week period that ended Tuesday, Sept. 21. Barron, Buffalo, Forest, Green Lake, Oconto, Rusk, Trempealeau and Washburn counties have critically high rates of infection; 62 counties have very high rates of infection.

From Sept. 8 to Sept. 21, the state recorded 661.5 new cases per 100,000 people, according to DHS. Critically high rates of infection are greater than 1,000 new cases per 100,000 people. The very high category means more than 350 but less than 1,000 new cases per 100,000 people were recorded. A high case rate happens when more than 100 but less than 350 new cases are reported per 100,000 people only Douglas and Florence counties fall into this category.

Closer to home, an additional 623 Northwestern Wisconsin residents tested positive for COVID-19 since Sept. 15, according to DHS.

They were reported as follows: 128 in Rusk County; 88 in Sawyer County; 85 in Washburn County; 84 in Taylor County; 61 in Burnett County; 55 in Price County; 46 in Douglas County; 33 in Ashland County; 22 in Iron County; and 21 in Bayfield County.

Statewide, an additional 19,973 new cases were reported in the last week, DHS said, bringing the total to 707,704 Wednesday.

An additional 30 deaths were reported statewide since Sept. 15, DHS said, including one person each in Rusk and Taylor counties. Since the start of the pandemic, 7,876 Wisconsinites have died from COVID-19.

The number of negative tests in the state was 3,296,100 Wednesday, an increase of 63,082 since Sept. 15.

DHS also reports that 6,299,892 doses of vaccine have been administered by Wednesday. A total of 3,280,843 Wisconsin residents have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 3,093,777 people, 53.1% of the population, have completed the vaccine series.

Here's the breakdown in the 10-county region:

Ashland County

  • Total cases: 1,400
  • Total negative tests: 8,632
  • Deaths: 15

  • Probable deaths: 1
  • Hospitalizations: 60
  • Vaccinations: 9,640

Bayfield County

  • Total cases: 1,287

  • Total negative tests: 8,448
  • Deaths: 20

  • Probable deaths: 2
  • Hospitalizations: 66
  • Vaccinations: 10,011

Burnett County

  • Total cases: 1,669

  • Total negative tests: 7,574
  • Deaths: 29

  • Probable deaths: 0
  • Hospitalizations: 158
  • Vaccinations: 7,750

Douglas County

  • Total cases: 4,440

  • Total negative tests: 22,958
  • Deaths: 44

  • Probable deaths: 22
  • Hospitalizations: 211
  • Vaccinations: 25,570

Iron County

  • Total cases: 661

  • Total negative tests: 3,069
  • Deaths: 21

  • Probable deaths: 21
  • Hospitalizations: 56
  • Vaccinations: 3,338

Price County

  • Total cases: 1,432

  • Total negative tests: 6,721
  • Deaths: 8

  • Probable deaths: 0
  • Hospitalizations: 188
  • Vaccinations: 6,960

Rusk County

  • Total cases: 1,753

  • Total negative tests: 6,150
  • Deaths: 30

  • Probable deaths: 0
  • Hospitalizations: 139
  • Vaccinations: 5,284

Sawyer County

  • Total cases: 2,032

  • Total negative tests: 10,273
  • Deaths: 27

  • Probable deaths: 2
  • Hospitalizations: 116
  • Vaccinations: 8,622

Taylor County

  • Total cases: 2,342

  • Total negative tests: 7,372
  • Deaths: 29

  • Probable deaths: 13
  • Hospitalizations: 148
  • Vaccinations: 6,427

Washburn County

  • Total cases: 1,787

  • Total negative tests: 8,377
  • Deaths: 23

  • Probable deaths: 2
  • Hospitalizations: 140
  • Vaccinations: 9,232

Visit the Douglas County COVID-19 dashboard or Wisconsin Department of Health Services COVID-19 page for updates.