MONROE — Green County returned to a high COVID-19 activity level this week based on the state’s criteria for case burden and trajectory.
New confirmed coronavirus infections slowed earlier in July, dropping the activity level down to medium, but toward the end of the month they started rising again.
Six new infections were reported Aug. 6 and seven new infections were reported Aug. 7, the biggest single-day jumps since May, back-to-back. So far, 148 have tested positive in the county. Of these, one person has died and 121 are reported as recovered, leaving 26 still active.
This is the highest number of active COVID-19 cases the county has seen.
One Green County resident with COVID-19 was hospitalized as of Aug. 6. It was the second local person to be hospitalized with COVID within the week.
“It’s concerning for me to see the numbers jump up like they have. We just need to stay on course with our masks and distancing and limiting the number of people that we’re around,” said Green County Public Health Director RoAnn Warden.
“We’ve moved into a high disease transmission (level). ... When we think about schools reopening here at the end of the month, that’s very concerning.”
While there hasn’t been recent transmission reported in children’s daycares or day camps in Green County, community spread is up.
“We’re finding more people who don’t know where they came in contact with it,” Warden said. Transmissions are also up among people older than 50, who are typically at greater risk of complications from COVID-19 than younger people.
That contrasts to earlier in the summer when infections were rising primarily among young people.
The state’s county activity levels are released every Wednesday. The ratings of high, medium and low are based on two data points: the number of active cases per 100,000 local residents over the previous two weeks and the trajectory of growth or decline since the previous week.
No county in the state has a “low” activity level, as of Aug. 5.
For a county to have “low” activity, it would need to have 10 or fewer new cases per 100,000 residents over the previous two weeks and a trajectory that is shrinking or shows no significant change.
Green County has just under 37,000 residents based on U.S. Census Bureau estimates, so it would need fewer than four new cases in the previous two weeks for a “low” designation.
Green County has had 29 new cases in the previous two weeks and a rising trajectory, hence the “high” rating.
Still, there are some bright spots in recent data. Green County has no new facility outbreaks and “our longterm care facilities are still in very good shape,” Warden said.
“We are concerned though when we see our numbers increase as they have in the last week. We need to reel them in,” she said, noting that rising cases in the community are a concern for nursing homes in particular. Two nursing homes in Green County — Pleasant View and the New Glarus Home — have had an employee test positive but so far no residents or additional employees have tested positive for COVID-19.
Warden said it’s too early to see an impact from Gov. Tony Evers’ statewide mask-wearing mandate, which went into effect Aug.1.
The Green County District Attorney announced that he won’t enforce violations of the mandate. Green County Public Health has received “a few concerns” about businesses not following the mandate and has handled these complaints by reaching out to provide education and urge compliance, Warden said.
Green County has so far not had a community-wide testing site available. Since May, the nearest open testing site has typically been in Madison at Alliant Energy Center, where testing is done six days per week.
Warden said a local committee is working to change this. Members of the committee include representatives from Public Health, Monroe Clinic and area EMS agencies. Planning is still in the early stages.
The National Guard has been assisting with facility and community testing across the state, but Warden said for a “consistent, regular testing site” that offers testing two or three times per week, it’s more realistic for Green County to look at local options.
“We’re looking to see if we as a county can do the testing utilizing our own resources,” she said.
Lafayette County reported 123 total cases, with 19 still active, as of Aug. 6.
Among the new Lafayette County cases are members of an ATV club that held their annual fundraising ride July 25. The ride began and ended at the Cork Down Saloon outside Blanchardville.
Pec Valley ATV Club announced at least four people who participated in the July 25 event tested positive for COVID-19, leading several of the bars the club visited along their route to close fully while employees were tested. Other establishments in the area partially closed in response to the uptick in cases and switched to carryout service or outdoor dining only.
Woodford Bar & Grill, for example, posted to its Facebook page on Aug. 3 that the bar was closing “due to some unfortunate events.”
The following day, Woodford Bar & Grill posted again to announce it was reopening and clarified that some members of the Pec Valley ATV Club stopped for lunch at the bar during their July 25 ride.
“With getting that news we thought it was best to close and we all went and got tested. We got the results back today and are happy to say we are all negative. With that being said we have been cleaning and sanitizing the last two days. We will continue to take precautions during this unknown time we are in. We are working on some outdoor seating options as well.”
(This story has been updated from the print version to reflect the latest data.)