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Pierce County patient who tested positive for coronavirus attended event at Prescott, Osceola schools

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PIERCE COUNTY -- The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Pierce County Public Health Department announced Monday, March 9 that a second person in the state tested positive for COVID-19 -- coronavirus.

DHS officials said the person was exposed while traveling within the U.S. and was in isolation at home.

County health officials in an update Tuesday afternoon said the patient attended a practice Destination Imagination event at a school in Prescott on Friday, March 6, and an all-day Destination Imagination event on Saturday, March 7 at Osceola High School. Health officials said people who may have had contact with the patient would be considered "low risk," but should monitor for symptoms for 14 days.

Meanwhile, officials were working to determine all people who had contact with the patient to isolate or quarantine people and test those exhibiting symptoms.

The School District of Osceola, which is just north of Pierce County, canceled classes Tuesday, March 10 for cleaning.

Officials with the Somerset School District shared this message on social media on Monday night:

"The Somerset School District has just been made aware that an individual (not a student) who attended the Destination Imagination event at Osceola High School on Saturday, March 7, has a confirmed case of Coronavirus Disease 2019. According to guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), spending time in the same indoor environment as persons known to have COVID-19 is considered to represent a low risk of exposure to the virus. We are monitoring the situation and will make you aware of any further developments. Thank you!"

“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 in a news release. “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.”

The first case involved a Dane County resident who returned from China and was placed under quarantine at the end of January. That case was announced Feb. 5.

DHS officials on Monday asked that people who traveled to places with active COVID-19 in the past 14 days self-monitor and self-quarantine. If symptoms, like fever, cough, or breathing problems occur, DHS officials said they should contact their local health department and health care provider for possible testing.

“The Pierce County Public Health Department will continue to work closely with our partners to respond to this situation. The individual who tested positive is cooperating with home isolation. Their family is also staying home,” said AZ Snyder, Pierce County health officer, in the release.

The release laid out the following Pierce County Public Health Department and DHS responsibilities:

  • Identifying and contacting anyone who has been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19. These people are asked to quarantine themselves for 14 days from their exposure and will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms. People with symptoms are tested for COVID-19.
  • Performing follow-up testing for individuals who test positive to determine when a person can be released from isolation.
  • Providing guidance to clinicians regarding testing.
  • Preparing Wisconsin for community spread of COVID-19.

If COVID-19 disease begins to spread in Wisconsin communities, DHS officials said state and local public health officials would consider community interventions such as temporary closures of child care facilities and schools, workplace social distancing measures such as replacing in-person meetings with teleworking, and modifying, postponing, or canceling mass gatherings.

Decisions about the implementation of community measures would be made by state and local officials based on CDC guidance as well as the scope of the outbreak, officials said in the release.

While the risk of getting the illness remains low, DHS officials recommended people follow simple steps to avoid getting sick, including:

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