Second case of coronavirus confirmed in Wisconsin

Posted at 5:47 PM, Mar 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-10 12:36:26-04

UPDATE: A third COVID-19 case has been confirmed in Wisconsin since the publication of this story. Get more information here.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) says a second person has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).

Officials say the person was exposed while traveling within the U.S. and is staying at home in Pierce County.

Health officials in Pierce County are working to see if anyone was in contact with the patient. If so, they plan to isolate or quarantine people as well as test those who are exhibiting symptoms.

"With a second confirmed case in our state, we continue to urge state residents to take precautions to avoid illness," said State Health Officer Jeanne Ayers. "As guidance is evolving, it's important for people to monitor the DHS and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) websites for the latest information on COVID-19."

Wisconsin DHS says people who have traveled to places with active cases of COVID-19 in the past 14 days should self-monitor and self-quarantine themselves. If you or anyone you know has symptoms, like fever, cough, or breathing problems, contact your local health department and health care provider for possible testing.

If COVID-19 begins to spread to Wisconsin communities, state and local public health officials will consider measures which include temporarily closing child care facilities and schools. They will also look at "workplace social distancing measures" where companies would replace in-person meetings with working from home. Modifying, postponing, or canceling mass gatherings are also being considered. State and local officials will make those decisions based on CDC guidance as well as the scope of the outbreak.

Health workers say the risk of getting the illness remains low, but people should follow simple steps to avoid getting sick, including:

  • Frequent and thorough handwashing
  • Covering coughs and sneezes
  • Avoiding touching your face
  • Staying home when sick

In a message to students, faculty, and staff, UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank cautioned against travel for spring break:

To our students, faculty and staff,

UW-Madison continues to monitor the spread of COVID-19 (formerly novel coronavirus) and is addressing the epidemic in a coordinated campus-wide manner with local, state and federal agency partners.

The university is reviewing a range of strategies to limit COVID-19’s spread as the risk of community transmission continues to grow. Please review the information below carefully and continue to view the latest updates as posted via University Health Services. Visit the CDC travel advisory site often for more information. We ask that you take your own health, and that of others, under serious consideration during this epidemic.

Changing conditions could require changes to normal campus activities, such as events and instruction. Updates will be communicated by campus-wide email, social media and the university’s webpages.

UW-Madison is providing new guidance related to upcoming travel and UW-Madison’s Spring Break, scheduled for March 14-22.

We strongly advise you to reconsider non-essential personal or business travel away from Dane County. Documented cases are growing rapidly both domestically and internationally. You may face a higher risk of infection, significant delays returning to Madison, and/or the requirement to self-isolate upon your return, all of which could significantly impact your professional and personal obligations at great individual expense.

For the next 30 days, UW-Madison is canceling and suspending all upcoming university-sponsored travel to countries severely impacted by the virus. This currently includes China, France, Germany, Italy, Iran, Japan, South Korea, and Spain. However, the number of impacted countries likely will expand as the disease progresses. This action includes university-sponsored Spring Break trips.

Should you decide to travel, be aware of the risks to your health. If you are returning from a Level 3 area, you are prohibited from returning to the workplace and must self-isolate for 14 days, even if you do not exhibit symptoms. All people returning from spring break outside of Madison are required to self-monitor (for fever, cough and difficulty breathing) for 14 days.

Remember, that most international health and medical insurance policies, including UW-Madison’s own CISI policy, do NOT cover security evacuation due to epidemic or pandemic disease, unless the enrolled traveler is seriously ill and requires medical evacuation. Under CISI, all medical benefits remain intact.

If you decide to travel, please ensure you have essential items you might need if you are not able to return immediately, such as medications, laptops or items related to your coursework or job duties.

UW–Madison continues to actively monitor this global health crisis in collaboration with Public Health Madison & Dane County, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Anyone believed to be at risk for COVID-19 will be contacted by Public Health Madison & Dane County.

If you develop symptoms, stay at home – please do not come to work or class if you are ill. At this time, UHS recommends following general best health practices to prevent sickness. Faculty and instructional staff are advised to be flexible with academic assignments. Faculty and staff are advised to use sick leave or contact your supervisor or HR rep.

Should you develop symptoms:
Separate yourself from people and animals in your home
Avoid sharing personal household items
Clean your hands often
Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday
Do not go to work, school, or public areas.
Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
If you need medical care, call UHS, urgent care, or the emergency department in advance and share your symptoms. They may ask you to continue to stay home or come to a medical facility

All individuals should do the following:
Wash hands often with soap and water
Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Cover mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and cough and sneeze into your elbow.

Continue to visit the UHS COVID-19 informational website. This comprehensive website has resources, updates, and answers to commonly asked questions about COVID-19. Please take time to review the FAQs.

COVID-19 is a virus that has not previously infected humans and information about its rate of spread and its effects is still largely unknown. That makes it important to be highly cautious in dealing with the current situation.

We will continue to monitor it and will provide additional information to the campus community as it becomes available.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank

Officials will hold a media briefing Tuesday to answer further questions.

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Coronavirus in Wisconsin

More data on Wisconsin's vaccination progress here.

Find a vaccination site here.

Check out county-by-county coronavirus case numbers here.

More information: COVID-19 on the Wisconsin DHS website

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