Health officials warn residents to be diligent, cautious even as orders are lifted across the state.
The day following the conclusion of the Memorial Day weekend, May 26, was supposed to be the day the statewide safer-at-home order came to an end in Wisconsin. Instead, it ended nearly two weeks ago on May 13.
The abrupt end of the order, courtesy of a Wisconsin Supreme Court decision, left a patchwork of county-by-county guidelines in place, with many local officials eventually rescinding their own guidelines out of fear of a lawsuit.
The day the court brought the order to an end, roughly 10,900 Wisconites had tested positive for COVID-19 and 421 had died from the virus. As of Tuesday, nearly two weeks later, the number of infected Wisconsin residents has increased by nearly 5,000 to 15,862 people. Nearly 100 more people have died, with the virus now claiming the lives of 517 Wisconsin residents.
In addition, the day the court nullified the order, five of six criteria of a statewide reopening metrix had been met. On Tuesday, three of the six criteria were met, according to data collected by the state Department of Health Services.
On a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Julie Willems Van Dyke, DHS’s deputy secretary, said even with portions of the state continuing to reopen, residents need to remember that “the virus is still out there.”
“ It doesn’t mean you should go on a big shopping spree, then out to dinner and then out for drinks to see 100 different friends you haven’t seen since March,” Van Dyke said.
She said it is still important for residents to be cautious about the number of trips that take from their home. She encouraged people to keep their social circles small and to continue to be diligent about washing your hands, not touching your face, and wearing a face mask when going out in public.
“All these common sense things are what we all need to do, even as we begin to open,” Van Dyke said.
In Fond du Lac County, for example, 25 new cases were reported over the weekend, according to Fond du Lac public health officer, Kim Mueller.
She said several of the people who tested positive had gone to the doctor because of sore throats, thinking they were suffering from seasonal allergies.
They then tested positive for COVID-19. Mueller said of those who tested positive, many said they had recently been to a large party or funeral service.