Now 206 Cases. Rules Changed on Gatherings.



By Jessica VanEgeren

March 20, 2020

Bars can have carryout food and liquor. Hair and nail salons closed.

It is turning out to be a tragic week in Wisconsin with the number of lives claimed by the coronavirus now at three with 206 people across the state infected.

It was a little over a week ago that Gov. Tony Evers declared a public health emergency. When he did, the number of cases was seven. That was eight days ago. Since then, most aspects of life in Wisconsin and elsewhere across the country have drastically changed.

Public and private schools as well as universities have shut down for the remainder of the semester, switching to online learning. Social gatherings of more than 10 people are no longer permitted. People are strongly encouraged to only leave their homes if it is absolutely necessary. Even going to the hair salon is no longer allowed. 

“This situation has been hard. And we do expect it to worsen,” said state Department of Health Services Andrea Palm. “COVID-19 will affect thousands of Wisconsinites. Sadly, these three deaths will not be our only deaths. This is going to be a very hard time for Wisconsinites.”

According to DHS, Milwaukee County still has the highest number of cases with 85. A further breakout by county is as follows: Dane with 32; Waukesha with 15, Ozaukee with 7, Sheboygan with 6, Winnebago and Columbia with five each, Kenosha and La Crosse with four each; Racine, Walworth and Washington with three each; Brown and Outagamie with two each; and one each in Bayfield, Calumet, Chippewa, Douglas, Dunn, Eau Claire, Green, Jefferson, Marathon, Pierce and Rock. 

Overall, 3455 people have tested negative for the virus.

As the virus spreads, healthcare workers are being asked to reuse single-use masks. A request was placed with the federal Strategic National Stockpile. Palm said the amount the state will receive will not cover the need. 

“Obviously this is very concerning to use,” she said.

Palm added the state has 2,500 intensive care unit beds and 620 ventilators, which are needed to treat the most acute patients with respiratory issues contracted from the virus. She said health systems across the state are actively looking for extra space to use for patients that need to be isolated including college dormitory halls and hotels. 

Evers reiterated the fact that he does not think it will be necessary to invoke a “shelter in place” policy that would require residents to be quarantined at home

“I know other states are doing it … but we will follow the science and we don’t believe we will have to do that (here),” Evers said. 

When asked how many state residents can expect to contract the virus, Dr. Ryan Westergaard, the chief medical officer with the Bureau of Communicable Diseases, said there is “no good way to predict that number, and it is almost not helpful to predict.” 

He did say that if no actions were taken, such as closing schools and restricting gatherings, roughly 70 percent of the population would contract the virus. 

To the point of containing the spread and maintaining social distancing of six feet while in public, Evers and Palm provided additional guidelines to what types of businesses could remain open with 10 or fewer people. 

Effective at 5 p.m. Friday, hair salons, day spas, barber shops, day spas, tattoo parlors and tanning salons will be closed. 

Bars and restaurants now will be treated the same, with bars able to open and provide carryout sales of food and even alcoholic beverages if already permitted under local ordinances.

Laundromats, media organizations, acupuncturists, banks and other financial institutions and cafeterias in health care centers and hospitals can remain open to serve the public.

All parts of the food delivery system, from farms to stores, may remain open. Transportation systems will also remain open to the public. And all buildings used for in-person absentee voting or a polling location may remain open except for sites in long-term care or assisted care facilities. 


CATEGORIES: Coronavirus


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