‘Onward Oneida County’ prepares letter to governor
By Eileen Persike, editor
The Oneida County Board is drafting a letter to send to Gov. Tony Evers regarding the state’s Safer-at-Home order. During a meeting Monday of the Onward Oneida County committee, board chair David Hintz, members Bob Mott and Steven Schreier,and County Health Officer Linda Conlon reported on the status of the draft.
Hintz said the two general points of the letter are to promote the concept that any opening should include a regional plan, and to demonstrate that Oneida County is ready to “strategically and carefully” start the reopening process.
When the letter is complete, Hintz said it will be available on the Health Department’s website. Some of the points made in the letter include the county’s low population density, the lack of mass public transportation or crowded sidewalks; the fact that the county has a fairly low case count, adequate personal protection equipment; and that hospitals will be able to handle a slight surge in cases should one arise.
“We strategically wanted to ask for this knowing the viewpoint of the governor and [Department of Health Services],” said Conlon. “We wanted to make sure our points were positive, yet reflect the way we are thinking.”
Though the population of the county increases during the summer tourist season, Conlon said she could not find a “hard figure” as to how much the population swells, explaining that she wanted the information within the letter to be “accurate and true.”
Looking at an info-graphic that will be included with the letter, board and committee member Schreier said there is part of it that concerns him a bit.
“I represent one of the smallest districts, and 33 people per square mile – I have 33 people on my street. The 33 people per square mile is a county number,” he said. “A lot of people come into Rhinelander to work and purchase essentials. The risk is higher for the Rhinelander community as opposed to the rest of the county. I think it’s important to recognize that.”
Other board members questioned when restaurants would reopen, how tourism will affect the county’s plans and how will rules be enforced.
On Monday Gov. Evers announced the opening of main street retail stores and shops around the state. Stand alone and strip mall type locations are allowed to open for in-person shopping, with a restriction of no more than five people in the store at a time.
ONEIDA COUNTY DATA
Conlon updated the committee on the current statistics:
• 527 total number of people tested
• 51 of those tests are pending
• 469 negative tests
• 7 positive cases
• 6 have been released from isolation;
• 1 person remains hospitalized (person is not hospitalized in Oneida County)
Conlon also noted a community testing event will be held in the Northwoods next week. These are the pop-up type labs that the State Emergency Operations Center, the DHS, Wisconsin Emergency Management and National Guard are holding throughout the state. Conlon said anyone who has even a slight symptom such as a sore throat, or has been exposed to someone who has tested positive to COVID-19 will be able to stop by the site for a free test. More information will be announced as it becomes available.