Saturday, March 28 update: Four people are confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health.
MONROE — A second person in Green County has tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus pandemic.
Green County Public Health announced the diagnosis the afternoon of March 26. The person is in isolation at home and has no known direct contact with another positive case.
Infection without known direct contact is known as “community spread.”
“We’ve moved now into community spread. It’s spreading throughout all of Wisconsin,” RoAnn Warden, director of Green County Public Health.
Warden would not give the person’s age or whether they have underlying conditions.
“That’s really not necessary. It’s not going to protect the public health,” she said, explaining that this would be her policy going forward to protect the privacy of those diagnosed.
Warden said her department is in daily contact with the person to “monitor their symptoms and ensure they are receiving the support to be able to isolate at home.”
To minimize the spread of illness, Green County Public Health is conducting a contact investigation to identify and follow up with any people who had close contact with the individual. Close contacts are being monitored by Public Health staff and asked to isolate themselves and do daily symptom and temperature checks.
The first COVID-19 diagnosis in Green County was announced March 20. That individual was reported to be 29 years old and in isolation at home. There was no known direct contact to explain the infection, although the person had recently traveled to Florida.
“They’re recovering well, without any complications, at home,” Warden said.
On March 25, Warden reported that 72 people in Green County had been tested for COVID-19 since testing in the county began March 11. Of these, 48 were negative and 23 were awaiting results.
But she said Thursday that going forward, she will not be releasing testing totals because she doesn’t consider the number reliable.
“We can’t be 100 percent accurate,” she said. Medical providers and laboratories can report the numbers to the public health department but “we’re not getting those numbers on a timely basis.”
Lafayette County is also only reporting confirmed cases, not the total number of those tested. The county had no confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of March 26, said Lafayette County Health Department Director Elizabeth Townsend.
Monroe Clinic has not had any positive COVID-19 cases identified and is prioritizing testing in accordance with Centers for Disease Control criteria, according to the announcement Thursday from Green County Public Health.
The announcement, released jointly with Monroe Clinic, called the hospital “a key partner in this situation” and provided information on the prioritized testing “to clarify any uncertainties in the community about Monroe Clinic’s testing process.”
CDC guidelines to limit testing were put into place earlier this month in response to a national shortage of COVID-19 laboratory testing materials.
First priority goes to hospitalized patients and healthcare facility workers with symptoms; second priority goes to patients in longterm care facilities, first responders, those 65 and older and those with underlying conditions, all with symptoms; third priority goes to “critical infrastructure workers” with symptoms, anyone else with symptoms, healthcare facility workers and first responders without symptoms and those “with mild symptoms in communities experiencing high numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations.”
The identified symptoms are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Besides healthcare workers and first responders, those without these symptoms are deemed “non-priority.”
“They’re not just testing everyone who shows up with a cold-like symptom,” she said.
“It’s a new respiratory illness so we are learning a lot about it. At the local level, I’m following the guidance (of) the Centers for Disease Control,” she added.
Currently all Green County testing is happening at labs elsewhere in the state. More labs are doing COVID-19 testing every day and soon in-hospital testing will be possible, Warden said.
Anyone can get COVID-19.
“We’ve heard younger people that think they’re maybe immune to this, but the data we’re seeing ... those young adults can get it, and then unfortunately that’s spreading,” Warden said.
She is encouraging local businesses to educate employees with facts about the disease to combat “fear and misinformation.”
“We want people to get accurate, concise information, and not on Facebook,” she said. Green County Public Health has a webpage set up with information and resources on COVID-19, gcpublichealth.org/coronavirus. New this week is a tip sheet for staying safe while shopping.