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6 pending coronavirus tests in Wisconsin, risk remains low: ‘Learning as we go’

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MADISON -- The Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced Wednesday, March 4, five new pending cases of coronavirus in the state. Including those five cases, six tests are pending. Thus far, one case of the virus has been confirmed in the state and 19 tests have come back negative -- a total of 26 people have been tested.

On Wednesday, March 4, members of the state legislature were briefed on the situation.

"The timing of this briefing seems more appropriate considering the rapid evolution over the last several days," said Secretary-designee Andrea Palm.

The U.S. death toll from coronavirus is climbing. Wisconsin is among the cluster of states with a confirmed case. In February, one patient in Dane County tested positive and received treatment. Test results are still pending for several other patients.

"We truly don't know whether this will run its course," said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, Chief Medical Officer for the Bureau of Communicable Disease.

State health officials say they are preparing in the event of a pandemic. But there are so many questions about the virus itself.

"I think that's the root of the anxiety about this. Because it's new, there's so much we don't know. The science is changing -- and we are learning as we go," Palm said.

Health officials say the risk of coronavirus spreading from person to person in Wisconsin remains low.

"Obviously, we're concerned about the public health impact, but there's an economic impact on that too. I'm hearing a lot from the tourism industry on that," said State Rep. Joel Kitchens (R -Door County).

Elected officials brought up concerns for local schools, nursing homes, and prisons if someone inside either facility tests positive.

"What I am thinking a lot about is how do we support facilities if their workers become ill," said State Health Officer Jeanne Ayers.

There is no vaccine for coronavirus. But everyday practices can be the key to stopping the virus from spreading.

"Wash your hand. It is one of the most proactive approaches you can take," Ayers said.

State health officials say Wisconsin is considered at containment level. if and when that changes, so will the state's response.

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