Rise in coronavirus cases as reported by the WI Dept. of Health Services

Buffy Riley tests positive. More election cases. Green Bay meatpacker closes.

Wisconsin saw another historic jump in day-to-day COVID-19 cases Saturday, ten more deaths over the weekend from the coronavirus outbreak, and further increases in Brown County that led to the suspension of operations at a meatpacking plant in Green Bay.

The 5,911 total positive cases in the state reflect 555 new cases reported on Saturday and Sunday. The Saturday increase of 331 marked the outbreak’s highest single day rise in Wisconsin cases. Also, more cases may be tied to the April 7 election after Milwaukee’s health commissioner increased to 40 the number of infections she has seen in people who voted or worked at the polls.

There were 171 new cases in Brown County over the weekend where an outbreak has been traced to the JBS Packerland meatpacking plant in Green Bay. JBS USA temporarily closed the plant Sunday, according to a report in the Green Bay Press Gazette. Two other plants in the area have also had positive cases. Brown County has now reported a total of 776 COVID-19 cases, an increase of 561 cases in the past eight days.

All case numbers in this report come from daily updates published online by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Statewide, the number of positive cases has risen 1,565 in the past eight days. Increased testing capabilities and the Brown County outbreak likely played large factors as all but nine counties experienced single-digit growth or no growth at all.

Of the 5,911 total Wisconsin cases, 272 people have died in the outbreak. The deaths represent 5 percent of the statewise case total. Another 48 percent of the cases have been diagnosed within the last 30 days. And 47 percent of those infected with coronavirus have recovered. 

Twenty-four percent, or 1,376, of all cases required hospital care.

“Recovered” refers to immediate symptoms and some coronavirus patients may have lasting respiratory issues.

Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik is cited in a report from public radio station WUWM that says 40 people infected with the coronavirus have connections to the in-person voting that took place April 7 after Republicans sued to prevent a delay and/or a move to an all-mailed ballot election. Kowalik said she hopes to have data finalized by May 1 on the number of Milwaukee cases that may be tied to the election.

More than 885 health care workers in Wisconsin have contracted COVID-19, making up approximately 15 percent of the state’s total coronavirus cases. That figure does not yet include Hayward nurse Buffy Riley, who reported a positive test of the virus, contracted while treating patients in New York City over the past three weeks. Her observations were captured in a series of reports on UpNorthNews. (Click here for Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, and Part Six.) She is quarantined at a friend’s cabin approximately 20 miles from her Hayward home.

The outbreaks at Wisconsin meatpacking plants are not isolated to Brown County. In the Milwaukee suburb of Cudahy both the mayor and Smithfield Foods refuse to say how many workers have become infected at a plant that has been shut down and is being investigated by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, according to a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. OSHA is also investigating the JBS cases. The Journal Sentinel reports Rock County health officials have also confirmed at least two positive cases at a Hormel plant in Beloit.