The Vilas County Public Health Department confirmed Monday a third case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), while the Oneida County Health Department announced its second and third cases Sunday.

Laurel Dreger, health officer for the Vilas County Public Health Department said the individual is a close contact to one of the other two positive cases in the county. 

Dreger said the individual is currently in isolation and the health department is contacting individuals with whom the patient had close contact. The department did not give an age or sex of the individual.

“Even though we have an additional known case, we do not consider Vilas County to have community spread of the virus,” said Dreger. “The term ‘community spread’ means there is no known source of the disease, such as a recent contact with an infected person or travel from an area with a high number of cases. This is not the case with our most recent confirmation.”

Meanwhile, the Oneida County Health Department  received notification of a second and third person in Oneida County diagnosed with novel coronavirus infection.

According to Linda Conlon, Oneida County Health Department health officer, the individuals are in their 60s and 80s and are unrelated to each other or the first case of COVID-19 diagnosed last Friday, March 27. The individuals are currently in isolation, said Conlon.

Conlon said health officials are working to determine how the individuals may have become infected and are contacting others with whom the positive cases had close contact.

“With the two additional cases identified, it is reasonable to believe that there is now community spread of the virus in Oneida County,” said Conlon.

Therefore, local health officials are encouraging community members to follow Gov. Tony Ever’s Safer At Home order and stay at home as much as possible. In addition, people should continue to practice proper hygiene to avoid getting sick, including:

— Frequent and thorough handwashing with soap and water;

— Covering coughs and sneezes;

— Avoiding touching your face;

— Staying home when sick;

— Practicing social and physical distancing, staying at least 6 feet part; and

— Avoiding large public gatherings and crowds, with no gatherings over 10 people permitted.

“Because COVID-19 transmission is now widespread throughout Wisconsin, even people who have not traveled outside of their community should minimize their contact with others by staying home when possible, practicing social distancing and being alert for symptoms of COVID-19,” Conlon said. “There is an urgent need to restrict movement and stay home as much as possible.”

Dreger said symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. 

“If you think you may have COVID-19, you should call the clinic or hospital before going. Please do not call 911; this should be reserved for those needing critical emergency attention,” said Dreger.



COVID-19 update

As of Monday morning, there were a total of 143,055 confirmed cases and 2,513 deaths related to COVID-19 in the United States, according to tracking data from The Johns Hopkins Hospital. At least 4,865 people have recovered.

In Wisconsin, as of Monday morning there were 1,180 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 20 people had died. 

In response to the rapid spread of coronavirus, President Donald Trump said Sunday he would extend nationwide social distancing guidelines for another 30 days, an abrupt back-down from his push to reopen the country as coronavirus continues to spread.

The 15-day guidelines Trump announced two weeks ago were set to expire March 30, and the President had suggested over the past week that he was looking to relax them, at least in some parts of the country. He even floated Easter, on April 12, as a potential date by which the country could return to normal.

But on Sunday, at the urging of health leaders, he said he’d decided to extend the guidelines — which include suggested limits on large gatherings — to April 30.

Also on Monday, Gov. Evers announced Wisconsin will be able to double its capacity to process COVID-19 under a new public-private partnership.

The partnership includes laboratory support from Exact Sciences, Marshfield Clinic Health System, Promega and UW-Health. Existing labs that had been doing testing were able to complete between 1,500 and 2,000 a day, but that is expected to double initially and grow as more supplies become available, Evers’ office said in a statement announcing the agreement.



Safer At Home

Meanwhile, Evers’ Safer At Home order will remain in effect until 8 a.m. Friday, April 24. 

“I know the COVID-19 outbreak has been difficult and has disrupted the lives of people across our state. Issuing a Safer At Home order isn’t something I thought we’d have to do and it’s not something I take lightly, but here’s the bottom line: folks need to start taking this seriously,” said Evers.

“Each and every one of us has to do our part to help slow the spread of COVID-19 so we can flatten the curve to ensure our doctors, nurses and health-care workers have the opportunity to do their important work. Let’s all do our part and work together.”

Individuals do not need special permission to leave their homes, but they must comply with this order as to when it is permissible to leave home. 

Similarly, if a business is an essential business or operation as defined in the order, it does not need documentation or certification to continue its work that is done in compliance with this order.

Under this order, Wisconsin residents are able to:

— Perform tasks essential to maintain health and safety, such as obtaining medicine or seeing a doctor;

— Get necessary services or supplies for themselves or their family or household members, such as getting food and supplies, and pet food and supplies necessary for staying at home;

— Care for a family member in another household; and

— Care for older adults, minors, dependents, people with disabilities or other vulnerable persons.

The order contains detailed information regarding the exemptions provided to certain businesses. If a business is unsure about whether or not they are exempted from this order, they can contact the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.