EC County COVID-19 Cases Surge by Nearly 500 Over Two Weeks

county sees biggest boost in virus cases since pandemic began

Tom Giffey, photos by Alee Erickson |

Face masks have become a familiar sight in all indoor settings in Eau Claire and elsewhere.
Face masks have become a familiar sight in all indoor settings in Eau Claire and elsewhere.

Nearly 500 new cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in Eau Claire County in the past two weeks, by far the biggest spike since the pandemic began.

In the seven days between Sept. 9 and Sept. 16 alone, 299 new cases were diagnosed in the county, Eau Claire City-County Health Department Director Lieske Giese said in an online media briefing Thursday. Combined with the 199 cases reported during the previous week, the total number of coronavirus diagnoses in the county grew by 498 – or 59% – over 14 days, reaching 1,336 by Wednesday, Sept. 16.

An additional 62 cases were diagnosed between Wednesday and Thursday, bringing the county total to 1,398, according to county COVID-19 website.

Meanwhile, the statewide caseload grew by 2,034 during the same period, a one-day record, the Department of Health Services reported. Nearly 95,000 Wisconsinites have been diagnosed with the disease since the pandemic began.

The statewide COVID-19 caseload grew by 2,034 between Wednesday and Thursday, a one-day record. 

“Across the state … the cases have been increasing at one of the fastest rates since the beginning of the pandemic,” Giese said. “In some ways we were anticipating this across the state with the start of school.”

Since Sept. 1, approximately 45% of the county’s new cases have been affiliated with UW-Eau Claire, Giese said. In addition, more than 51% of all cases in the county have been among people between 20 and 29 years of age.

According to the university’s online COVID-19 dashboard, 203 UWEC students have tested positive for the virus since Aug. 31. Eighty-nine students were in quarantine on campus, and 38 were in isolation.

While younger people are less likely than older people to have severe symptoms or to be hospitalized because of COVID-19, they can spread the disease to others, and some may suffer serious consequences and even death, Giese said.

As the total number of diagnoses has grown, so has the share of positive tests: During the most recent seven-day period, 14.2% of COVID-19 tests in the county had been positive, according to a set of metrics maintained on the county’s coronavirus website. (The target threshold is 5% or fewer positive tests.)

An estimated 1,145 of the 1,398 county residents who have tested positive for the virus have recovered, the state DHS estimates. There have been six deaths attributed to the coronavirus in Eau Claire County and 1,231 statewide.