In wake of COVID surge, county urges responsibility

Metro Wire Staff

Positive COVID-19 cases have more than doubled in the past month, and county officials are urging members of the public to wear masks and exercise caution when leaving their homes.

The county health department’s contact tracers are “working at maximum capacity” in the wake of the increase, according to a statement from County Health Officer Gary Garske.

“But the surge in positive cases is beyond current capacity, and therefore response time to new cases and close contacts have been delayed,” he said. “As positive cases continue to be identified, we are giving our best effort to keep up and contact the cases and their contacts as best as we possibly can.”

(Courtesy Portage Co.)

Garske urged residents to stay home whenever possible—especially if they are feeling ill—wear a mask while in public, and to limit social interaction.

Anyone who has been notified they are, or potentially are, close contact with someone carrying the coronavirus, should stay home and monitor for symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

“Staying home and keeping social circles small will help slow the spread of the virus to others in the community,” Garske said. “This in turn will help to keep our schools and businesses stay open and community members safe during the pandemic.

The health department reports as of 2 p.m. on Sept. 23, Portage Co. has 1,270 positive cases of COVID-19 since August. Four county residents have died as a result of the virus. 

Anyone who has tested positive for the coronavirus is asked to follow these guidelines:

– Isolate yourself at home; do not go to work, school, or public areas
– Separate from family members and pets to protect them
– Wear a face covering if around anyone
– Postpone all non-essential appointments
– Practice good hand hygiene
– Monitor your symptoms including taking your temperature twice a day
– Do not share personal household items
– Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough/sneeze
– Notify those who are identified as close contacts
– Contact your employer and/or any possible establishments

To view the current status of COVID-19 activity in Portage County visit

“In order to slow community spread, now more than ever, we need people to stay home, especially when feeling ill, limit their social circles, and wear a mask,” Garske said.