MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin's coronavirus deaths surpassed 1,000 on Tuesday, a grim milestone on the same day the Big Ten said it was postponing the fall football season and schools statewide grappled with whether to resume in-person classes in September.
Deaths from the virus have touched nearly every corner of Wisconsin, with at least one reported in 52 of Wisconsin's 72 counties. Nearly half of the 1,006 deaths — 458 — were in Milwaukee County, home to the state's largest city that has been the epicenter of the pandemic that arrived six months ago.
Since then, the state has recorded 61,785 confirmed cases. Wisconsin's death count is the 28th highest in the country overall and the 37th highest per capita at just over 17 deaths per 100,000 people.
"Even one death from COVID-19 is one too many," Gov. Tony Evers said in a statement. "To all the Wisconsinites dealing with the loss of a family member, a friend, a coworker, or a neighbor, I express my deepest condolences. Know that our hearts and thoughts are with you, and we are going to continue doing everything we can to fight this virus that has already taken the lives of so many across our state."
African Americans have been disproportionately affected by the virus. While 7% of the state's population is Black, they account for 21% of the deaths to date.
"COVID-19 is present in every corner of Wisconsin, and it is up to each of us to do our part to stop the spread," said Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm.
Health officials continued to emphasize the importance of staying home, wearing a mask in public, keeping a six-foot distance from others and frequently washing hands.
Despite breaking the 1,000-death mark, the rolling average of daily new cases in the state has decreased just over 10% the past two weeks. There were 200 new cases per 100,000 people in Wisconsin over the past two weeks, which ranks 20th in the country for new cases per capita.
Evers issued a statewide mask mandate designed to slow the spread of the virus that took effect Aug. 1. Republican state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has said he wants the Legislature to kill the order, but Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has not yet said whether he would go along with that.