Dodge County Health Officials Refute Beaver Dam Coronavirus ‘Hot Spot’ Article In NY Times

(Beaver Dam) Dodge County health officials say the picture painted in a New York Times article about Beaver Dam being a coronavirus “hot spot” is misleading and inaccurate. On Sunday, an article entitled “Five Ways To Monitor The Coronavirus Outbreak In The US,” identified “Beaver Dam, Wisconsin” as being third on a list of “Where Outbreaks Might Come Next.”

In a graph, “Beaver Dam” is listed as having 246 recent cases measured as “growth rates averaged over the previous week.” By their calculation, “Beaver Dam” has a daily growth rate of 13-percent with cases doubling every 5.8-days.

The article indicated that only communities with a population of 50-thousand people or more are being calculated. Beaver Dam has a population of just over 16-thousand. Mapping data on the Wisconsin Department of Public Health website indicates that Beaver Dam has had 55 cases, most of those in the past month.

The 246 cases could, however, be attributed to all of Dodge County. But Dodge County Human Services and Health Department Director Becky Bell says that is just the beginning of the problem with the New York Times article.

Bell says the numbers do not recognize the fact that 225 cases were reported among the inmate population at Waupun Correctional Institution. Those 225 cases are not people in the community, Bell says, not to mention that Waupun is 20 minutes away from Beaver Dam.

Some Dodge County, and even Beaver Dam, residents work at Waupun Correctional, and the state says 20 prison staffers have contracted the virus. Contact tracing of prisoners is not a function of local health agencies as the state handles COVID-19 matters related to prisoners.

Bell says her office is currently monitoring 30 people countywide for COVID-19, and 146 people in the county have recovered. Bell says that cluster of cases is well within the capacity of county officials to track.

Bell says that no one from the New York Times reached out to her office for comment.