County: Public strongly urged to stay home as COVID-19 cases rise

By Brandi Makuski

Though Wisconsin lacks the resources to conduct widespread testing for COVID-19, widespread community transmission of the coronavirus is likely, according to Monday’s statement from the Portage Co. Health Department.

The term “community transmission” means the source of infection is unknown, according to Health Officer Gary Garske.

“It occurs when a person’s illness cannot be traced back to a certain individual or recent travel, indicating that the infected person was likely infected within their own community,” Garske said on April 6.

The DHS on Sunday told Garske’s office that the state was now recommending the general public wear masks whenever they go out, according to the county’s latest bulletin, in accordance with CDC guidelines.

“Governor Evers’ Safer at Home order is in place to protect the public,” Garske’s press release reads. “This means that only essential businesses can remain open and that travel is restricted to the essential business where you work or for a different essential task, such as grocery shopping.”

Garske said warmer weather makes it easier to get outside for exercise and fresh air, but it’s still important to “avoid activities where people can congregate even outdoors, as this is not maintaining safe social distancing and helps the COVID-19 virus spread within our community. Please stay at home as much as possible and let’s help protect one another and the community.”

According to the latest numbers from the DHS, Wisconsin has 2,267 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 75 deaths related to the virus. the hospitalization rate is about 28 percent, an increase of three percent from Friday.

Of the 172 people tested to date, three confirmed cases have been announced in Portage Co., according to the county health department.