News – March 23, 2020

(Juneau) It is too early to tell if there has been community spread following news over the weekend that two people in Dodge County have tested positive for COVID-19. That according to Public Health Officer Abby Sauer who tells DailyDodge that they are still investigating the confirmed cases. Both individuals are being isolated at their homes and will remain there until authorized to return to normal activities. Public Health staff will monitor their close contacts, instruct them on how to do daily symptom and temperature checks, and insure they are isolating themselves. There remain two cases in Dodge County as of 7pm Sunday. Sauer, meanwhile, encourages people to practice social distancing which she stresses is key in protecting yourself and preventing the spread of the virus.

(Madison) Confirmed cases of coronavirus increased from 281 infected on Saturday to 381 on Sunday with Milwaukee the hardest hit with 182 cases. There have been four deaths statewide from the virus, including two in Milwaukee County.

(Grafton) Over the weekend, a team from the Wisconsin National Guard was sent to a senior living facility in Ozaukee County. The Guard’s Captain Joe Trovato reported that four Soldiers and two Airmen were sent Saturday, as the facility in Grafton works to identify a long-term staffing solution. The Guard was requested after the facility reported its first COVID-19 death, and additional confirmed cases among staff and residents.

(Madison) The latest emergency orders issued by Governor Evers Sunday will make it easier for people to keep and get back utility services during the coronavirus pandemic, while easing teaching hour requirements for school districts. One order allows the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin to direct regulated utilities in Wisconsin to stop utility disconnection for nonpayment for all customers, including commercial, industrial and farm accounts which are not part of the annual moratorium. In addition, utilities have to cease assessing late fees to customer accounts; halt the practice of requiring deposits from customers for reconnection of service; allow deferred payment agreements for all customers who request them; remove any administrative barriers for customers establishing or reestablishing utility service; and authorize water utilities to provide budget billing arrangements to customers.

(Madison) In his other order issued Sunday, Governor Evers is allowing the Department of Public Instruction to suspend administrative rules related to hours of instruction, student teacher assessments, and general flexibility during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The issue of instructional hours has been a concern for districts since all buildings were forced to close last week to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Many districts are continuing education through use of online services an instructional materials sent to a student’s home.

(Beaver Dam) More than 200 local leaders have signed a letter telling state leaders that more must be done more protect voters from coronavirus. Governor Tony Evers said last week that he lacks the authority to change the date of the April 7 election. State Representative Mark Born echoed those sediments with us Friday on WBEV’s Community Comment in saying he does not anticipate any changes. He says there is just not a mechanism for the election to be delayed or cancelled, as they are date certain by statute and the governor does not have the authority to override that statute. Theoretically, Born says, the legislature could be brought in but then the question becomes change the election to when?

(Juneau) Dodge County-owned buildings have new visitor restrictions as of Monday morning. County Administrator Jim Mielke says the restrictions are the recommendation of the Dodge County Public Health Officer. The Administration Building at 127 East Oak Street will have limited public access available only through the Miller Street entrance, which is ADA accessible. The public will be limited to the first-floor lobby area and adjoining meeting rooms. The remaining entrances to the building are closed. All those entering the building must check in at the Information Window. The courthouse is open only for essential functions and hearings. The sheriff’s office lobby remains open for urgent matters and emergencies; Sheriff Dale Schmidt requests the public call for general information. The Dodge County Jail and Detention Facility is closed to the public. The Henry Dodge Office Building has restricted access to the ground floor lobby; all those entering must check in with the main reception point. The Dodge County Highway Department access is restricted, with limited access to the entrance lobby. The public is encouraged to utilize alternate means of obtaining services such as, phone, email or postal transactions. Mielke says if personal interaction is required, please contact the appropriate department in advance for an appointment. He notes that many county services are available through the Dodge County website.

(Beaver Dam) Marshfield Medical Center-Beaver Dam has imposed its most strict restrictions yet in response to the COVID-19 situation with no visitors allowed in its facilities until further notice. The exceptions include one birth partner per delivering mother; two adult visitors in end-of-life situations; and one parent or guardian if a patient is a minor. Also, all patients and visitors are required to have coverings over their noses and mouths before they can enter the hospital in Beaver Dam, including masks, bandanas or scarves.

(Madison) We’re all being urged to practice social distancing, to help slow the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus. And Dr. Mark Kaufman, Chief Medical Officer for the Wisconsin Hospital Association, says there’s another critical thing to remember. Many hospitals and healthcare systems are postponing surgeries and medical resources, in order to save resources for coronavirus patients.

(Bayfield) More requests from popular “up north” vacation counties, for folks to stay away amid the coronavirus outbreak. Last week it was Door County, now local officials in Bayfield and Vilas Counties recommend people stay in their home area if they have seasonal or second homes. Like Door County both have limited healthcare infrastructure and older populations. Both are also asking those already back in their seasonal homes to self-isolate for 14-days.

(Wisconsin) Amazon has shut down its flagship grocery delivery service, for the time being. The Prime Pantry program was a subscription service that would deliver staple foods and household supplies on a regular basis. The company says it’s shut down for now, thanks to record use, and that they’re working to restock on supplies. Amazon has already cut back on non-essential deliveries during the coronavirus crisis. A number of local grocery store chains are offering delivery services or curbside pickup.

(Beaver Dam) The Beaver Dam Fire Chief is reassuring residents that his department stands ready to respond to those in need amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Alan Mannel says they are staffed 24-seven-365-days-a-year with five or six firefighters and paramedics. He says they also have paid-on-call members who can respond from home, and off-duty full time members that can fill in when needed. The fire department is also part of the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System which is a vast group covering several states in the Midwest, including Wisconsin. Mannel is reminding the public to never hesitate calling 911 in a true emergency, adding that their goal is to continue to provide the best possible care to those they serve. He says that their resources are not infinite and there is concern about their ability to serve if they are overburdened with calls that are not an emergency. Mannel says to choose calling 911 wisely. Mannel encourages the pubic to check in on friends, relative or neighbor who may be alone and scared. Donate any new N95 masks you may have to the fire department; consider donating blood; stay home if you can; wash hands frequently and if you do venture out, keep your distance.