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Alder Tag Evers

Alder Tag Evers

Alder Tag Evers

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Madison , WI 53711

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Alder Evers’ Blog

Steep Increase in Dane County COVID-19 Cases Over Past Few Days, Phase 2 Order Revised

June 26, 2020 10:17 AM

Residents, businesses urged to take precautions to prevent the spread of illness

In the past five days, 279 people in Dane County have tested positive for COVID-19, which brings our 7-day case average to 47 cases per day. The 7-day average from mid-June was 17 cases per day.  Increased testing does not fully account for this upward trend in cases.

"We can't speculate about the increase in cases, and it's probably not due to just one thing, but in our contact tracing interviews it is evident that people are socializing more." said Janel Heinrich, Director of Public Health Madison & Dane County. "The orders put in place are one part of a strategy, and we also need everyone to do their part to help prevent the spread of disease."

What we do know about these 279 cases:

  • 50% of cases are ages 20-29. We're investigating multiple cases associated with businesses near campus.
  • So far, 35 cases are connected with clusters, but our contact tracers are still conducting many interviews so this number will increase.
  • 167 (60%) cases are from Madison and 112 (40%) are from other cities in Dane County.
  • 173 of the cases were tested at the community test site.

There has not been a corresponding increase among people being admitted to the hospital or ICU. These data tend to lag behind case increases, however, so it is something that will be closely monitored.

"Given this steep upward trend in cases from the past several days, it is very unlikely we will meet the criteria outlined in the Forward Dane plan for moving to Phase 3 anytime soon," said Heinrich. The metrics outlined in the Forward Dane plan will be updated again on July 2. Two metrics are currently red, indicating Dane County should not increase business capacity or gathering size limits.

There is currently no state or federal guidance about when cities, counties, or states should return to prior reopening phases. As stated in the Forward Dane plan, "While we hope that by following this plan our path to reopening will be linear, we cannot predict the path of this virus. It's possible that we may have to tighten or loosen policies so we can all stay safe and healthy and keep our healthcare and public health systems from becoming overwhelmed."

Public Health Madison & Dane County staff continue to finalize criteria, in consultation with health system partners, for returning to previous phases.

"Our community is facing a real turning point with the now accelerating spread of COVID-19," said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. "It's here, it's spreading, it's affecting more young people, and the risk of getting it is no less today than it was in March when the state started Safer at Home. If we don't wear masks, if we gather in groups, if we go out in public excessively, we are at risk of amplifying this dangerous virus."

"Our public health department is the one who issues orders, but our collective actions give us the power to change how this virus impacts our community," said City of Madison Mayor Rhodes-Conway.

"When we make the choice to wear a mask and practice physical distancing we all help keep ourselves healthy, our neighbors healthy and our businesses open and safe," continued Rhodes-Conway.

Dane County Issues Amendment to Phase 2 Order

Change comes following steep increase in positive cases

Effective at 10:00pm, June 25, 2020, Public Health Madison & Dane County is issuing order #6, which keeps Dane County in Phase 2. The order limits private gatherings and adjusts language regarding capacity limits for bars and restaurants. All other parts of the Phase 2 order have carried over to this new order.

"This new order has changes that target the issues we are hearing about in contact tracing interviews. We make this change after carefully studying our steep case trajectory and learning more about the circumstances surrounding each case from our contact tracers," said Janel Heinrich, Director of Public Health Madison & Dane County.

These are the only items that have changed with this order: (See the order for all requirements)

  • Private gatherings are limited to 10 or fewer people (Section 2.a.)
  • Bars and restaurants stay at 50% capacity but customers are required to use seating at all times.
  • Seating must be physically distanced (6 feet) from other parties. Parties can only be seated with members of their own household (Section 5.b.)
  • No standing service (i.e., moving to the restroom is fine but patrons must be seated during their visit) (Section 5.b.)

"In contact tracing interviews, gatherings among family and friends and socializing at bars have been identified often. We know they are a major driver of this surge in cases, and this is why we are taking this targeted approach and not moving entirely to a previous phase," continued Heinrich.

As reported this morning, 50% of the 279 new cases seen in the past few days are among people 20-29, many of whom live on or near campus. While we are seeing this issue downtown, we also are seeing similar trends throughout the county, with 40% of cases from the past few days living outside of Madison.

In addition to this new order, Public Health Madison & Dane County will be stepping up enforcement activity. In contact tracing interviews, it is clear some businesses are not following the criteria required in Public Health orders.

"There are a small number of businesses that are ignoring public health orders, and by doing so they continue to put their workers, customers, and the community at risk. This has got to stop," said City of Madison Mayor Rhodes-Conway. "While we are having trouble with a few businesses, I want to acknowledge that we have heard from many businesses that are following the rules and are working closely with Public Health staff to meet the requirements."?

Public Health Madison & Dane County anticipates remaining in Phase 2 for at least one month. Forward Dane metrics will be updated again on Monday.

"We're all tired of dealing with COVID-19 but the fact is it is real, it is still here and it is spreading rapidly throughout our community. Please take this seriously – maintain physical distance and wear a mask. We all need to do our part in order to keep people safe," said Dane County Executive Parisi.

As Public Health Madison & Dane County reported this morning, in the past five days, 279 people in Dane County have tested positive for COVID-19, which brings the 7-day case average to 47 cases per day. The 7-day average from mid-June was 17 cases per day. Increased testing does not fully account for this upward trend in cases.

To help protect yourself and others:

  • Stay home if you're sick or feel off. A number of new cases reported going out while symptomatic.
  • Stay home if you don't need to go out. Working from home, virtual gatherings, and using curbside or delivery ordering are still the safest and best options to protect yourself and others.
  • Wear a mask if you go out. This is a simple, effective way to help reduce risk for yourself and others.
  • Protect your workers and customers. Follow public health requirements and recommendations.
  • Assume you may have come in contact with COVID-19 if you go out. Currently, just over a third of cases didn't know where they could've gotten COVID-19.
  • Watch for symptoms like fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. If you have these symptoms, call your doctor to be tested or visit the community test site. If you are a UW–Madison student, you may also contact University Health Services.

Remember...the virus doesn't care if you're sick and tired of hearing about it or if you think this is all overblown. It doesn't care if your kids think they are invincible. If given the chance, the virus will go after you and your loved ones.

Don't let it. 

Be Safe. Be Well. Be Kind.

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