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CDC works with Fond du Lac County health officials on COVID-19 cases, impacted businesses respond

Posted at 5:12 PM, Mar 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-16 19:58:01-04

FOND DU LAC COUNTY, Wis. — 11 of Wisconsin's 47 confirmed new coronavirus or COVID-19 cases are in Fond du Lac County.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention workers arrived Monday to help local health officials investigate.

New signs at the Fond du Lac City County Government Building aim to contain the spread of COVID-19. The county's health department announced they are closed to all services except the WIC Program to respond to COVID-19.

Out of the 11 positive cases, one is an employee at Mercury Marine, one of the area's largest employers.

"When they came back from the trip they were only at work for four hours that first day before they started not feeling good, went home, and haven’t been back since," said Lee Gordon, Director of Marine Communication and Public Relations for Brunswick Corporation, that includes Mercury Marine.

In a FaceTime interview, Gordon said everyone in the area near the employee was sent home to quarantine where they remain.

"We have a health department that has talked to the family and to keep in touch with the employee. The last I had heard they still are receiving medical treatment," said Gordon.

Gordon says the Mercury Marine employee is one of the Fond du Lac County residents who went on an Egyptian cruise recently.
Health officials said 9 county residents went on the cruise, and all of them tested positive for COVID-19.

Someday Travel, who organized the trip, says they confirmed there were no cases in Egypt before going overseas.

In a statement, co-owner Valerie Graczyk says upon their return March 2 travelers began showing symptoms including coughing, a low-grade fever, body aches, and fatigue.

The Fond du Lac County Health Department was notified. Graczyk says they advised based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations that Egypt was not a high-risk country at the time the state would not approve testing.

Upon those recommendations, the travelers went on with their lives.

Days later, Egypt became a high-risk country and travelers' symptoms progressed.

Graczyk says they have been communicating regularly with all their travelers to ensure they have the information and support they need.

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, Fond du Lac County's Health Department is currently waiting for multiple test results.

Read the full statements from Someday Travel and Mercury Marine below.

Someday Travel has been leading tours for 11 years to more than 35 countries.

As responsible business owners, we were concerned prior to leaving for this tour that our travelers would not be in any harm. We took extensive measures to validate when we left that there were no cases of the virus in Egypt. We receive confirmation there were none.

We did go on the tour and we were on a Nile River cruise for seven days and two days in Cairo.

Upon our return on March 2, our travelers began to have symptoms of coughing, low grade fever, achy bodies and fatigue. The Fond du Lac County Health Department was notified upon our return. They advised us based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations at that time that Egypt was not a high-risk country, and as such, that testing approval by the state would not happen.

Upon these recommendations, we all went about our lives.

As we are all learning more about COVID-19, this pandemic is quickly evolving. Days later, Egypt became a high-risk country and some of our travelers’ symptoms progressed. Throughout this entire period, we have been communicating regularly with all our travelers to ensure they have the information and support they need.

Our efforts with the Fond du Lac County Public Health Department, as well as local providers, continued, and our travelers self-quarantined and were tested. We have followed all guidelines and requests to the utmost of our ability. We appreciate staying on top of changing guidelines from state and federal officials, and we are all in contact with them daily.

This has been a time of uncertainty, and we are looking out for our travelers. Their health is of utmost importance.

We ask that the privacy of our travelers and our business is respected during this time. As such, this will be our only comment on this matter. Should you have further questions or concerns, contact the Fond du Lac County Public Health Department.

- Valerie Graczyk, Someday Travel Co-Owner

COVID-19 Media Alert: Mercury Marine

We continue to closely monitor the evolving situation regarding the spread of the COVID-19 virus and we want to thank all our Mercury employees, whether their job requires them to work on site or who we've asked to work remotely for carrying out a smooth transition. It is incredible the speed in which our organization reacted in such a short time.

Perhaps predictably, the changes taking place at Mercury against the backdrop of uncertainty and disruption caused by the virus have generated some rumors and false information regarding our business, our people and our future. We wanted to take this opportunity to provide the facts.

1) At this time, our manufacturing facilities are still running. We have done extensive planning, testing and simulation to prepare for situations like these.

2) Mercury Marine is not shut down. Despite messages on social media to the contrary, Mercury Marine manufacturing continues to run and product continues to be sent to our customers whose livelihood also depends on us. We do though understand that developments related to this virus are fluid and that things can change.

3) We are also implementing additional programs to help our hourly employees whose jobs require them to be on-site at Mercury facilities. These programs are designed to help them navigate the many issues and disruptions that COVID-19 brings.

4) As reported in the media and confirmed by us, one Mercury salaried employee to date in Fond du Lac has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. That employee remains under the care of medical professionals and our thoughts and prayers go out to our employee and the employee’s family. We continue to work with Fond du Lac County and local health agencies, and we have communicated with those who had direct contact with the employee. In addition, all employees who worked in the vicinity of the individual were sent home immediately and will continue to work from home.

We have been in close contact with leaders in Fond du Lac and we will continue to work with them toward protecting the health and safety of our entire community. We are all in this together and, as one of the largest employers in Fond du Lac, it is up to us to show leadership and stability in these uncertain times.

Best practices outlined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization have been implemented across our facilities and we will continue to meet or exceed these agencies' recommendations and guidelines moving forward.

Rumors about Mercury Marine will likely continue to emerge periodically in social media and other communication channels. Consequently, we will continue to communicate with you to provide facts and, when necessary, set the record straight.

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