Milestones reached in Wisconsin COVID-19 cases
Governor says state facing urgent crisis, imminent threat
By Eileen Persike
This week Wisconsin has reached a grim milestone, surpassing 200,000 cases of COVID-19, and also marked the largest single-day increase in the number of cases and deaths. During a media briefing Tuesday, Gov. Tony Evers noted it took a little more than seven months for the state to reach the first 100,000 cases and only 36 days to reach the second 100,000.
“There’s no way to sugar coat it,” Evers said. “We are facing an urgent crisis and there is an imminent threat to you, your family members, your friends, your neighbors and the people you care about. We need to quit treating this virus as something that can only happen to other people in other places. This virus is here and it’s spreading all around us.
Evers, and Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm called on residents to act as they did when the coronavirus was first detected in the state.
“Practicing social distancing, staying home as much as we are able, avoiding events with a lot of people and wearing a mask,” Evers said, are the most effective tools available.
As of 2 p.m. today, 5,262 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded, bringing the total number of people who have contracted the virus to 206,311. In the past two months, Palm said, the seven-day average has gone from 700 to 3,975 – more than 400%.
“With this many new cases each day, our contact tracers are overwhelmed,” she said. “Hospitals across the state are strained and are operating with critical and imminent staffing shortages.”
Palm added that anyone with symptoms or has been exposed to COVID-19 should get tested.
“Quarantine while you await results. Isolate from those you live with if you do test positive and please help our contact tracers by calling your own contacts, encouraging them to get tested and quarantine. This is going to get worse before it gets better.”
The alternate care facility at State Fair Park continues to accept patients, which Palm said acts as a “release valve for the hospitals.”
The number of deaths continues to climb, with 64 deaths reported today. Palm reiterated what the governor said about staying home, not interacting with people outside the immediate family, go out for essentials only and cancel travel plans and social gatherings. Taking these precautions, she said, are what is needed to “stop the spread and make sure Wisconsin gets back on the right track.”
To get back on track, Evers encouraged people to support local restaurants by getting food delivered or picking it up to go, support local businesses by ordering online and using contactless pickup.
“This pandemic will continue to hold (small businesses) and our state’s economy back until we get the spread of this virus under control,” Evers said. “Right now we don’t have another option.
“Public health is a team sport and we need everyone to step up to the plate and make these tough sacrifices and work together through these hard times…get back to the basics of fighting this together,” he concluded.
In those same 36 days that the state doubled its COVID-19 cases, Oneida County more than tripled its number, from 350 cases Sept. 20 to 1,202 positive tests by Oct. 26. The number of deaths increased from two to 13.
The Oneida County Health Department (OCHD) and Wisconsin National Guard are offering free COVID-19 testing Tuesdays and Thursdays through Dec. 10 at Grace Foursquare Church in Rhinelander. For details, visit publichealth.co.oneida.wi.us. For more information and statewide statistics, visit dhs.wisconsin.gov.