MADISON -- Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced Tuesday, March 17 72 positive cases of coronavirus in the state, and 1,038 people who tested negative.
That number from the state did not include a positive case reported by the Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department Tuesday, and an additional positive case confirmed by the Fond du Lac County Health Department -- for a total of 12 in that county.
The state total, updated at 2 p.m. each day, also did not include a number of positive cases confirmed by Milwaukee County officials in a 4 p.m. news conference Tuesday. The additional cases brought the state total to 90 Tuesday afternoon.
With health officials noting evidence of community spread in Dane County, Kenosha County, and Milwaukee County -- meaning people were testing positive even though they hadn't traveled to areas with a high concentration of the virus or had knowingly been in contact with someone who has it -- Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers ordered a statewide ban on all gatherings of more than 10 people as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, and closed all bars and restaurants except for delivery and pickup orders, more unprecedented disruptions to daily life made in an attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The restriction on gatherings of more than 10 people mirrored a recommendation made by President Donald Trump on Monday.
Evers also extended the closure of all public and private K-12 schools indefinitely and called on the Legislature to waive a one-week waiting period to receive unemployment compensation insurance. Evers said he would be talking with legislative leaders on Wednesday about an aid package and when they could take it up. He reiterated that he has no intention of delaying the state's April 7 presidential primary and general election. Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald also said a delay wasn't being discussed.
The number of people in Wisconsin who tested positive for COVID-19was 47 Monday.
Health officials did not have details of the ages of those infected or how many were hospitalized. They also did not have exact numbers on how many hospital ICU beds were available or ventilators for patients who would need them. The state health lab is prioritizing who is tested because of a nationwide shortage of the materials needed to complete the tests, said Dr. Westergaard, Wisconsin's chief medical officer for communicable diseases. He said there were enough supplies for the immediate future. He didn't have an estimate on when it would run out.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.
DHS officials offered the following key messages on their website:
- We will be prioritizing testing for COVID-19 because of a shortage of ingredients needed to run the tests. Many states across the country are grappling with this same problem. We have been working with partners in the private sector and public universities to try to get the ingredients needed to run these tests. We are working with our partners to ensure that we can continue to run testing.
- We have evidence of community spread in Milwaukee, Dane, and Kenosha counties. This means that there are people who have tested positive, and it is unknown what their exposures have been. They have had no exposures to a known case and have not traveled to a location where there is community transmission.
- We are doing this to protect and ensure the capacity of our health care system.
- If you have questions or immediate needs related to COVID-19, you can:
- Text COVID19 to 211-211,
- Visit 211Wisconsin.org, or
- Call 211.
Call volumes are high, please be patient and try to use the text or online options first.
- If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of COVID-19, please call your health care provider.
- To prevent illness, wash your hands often, cover coughs and sneezes, clean frequently touched surfaces every day, and stay home when you are sick. Learn the best way to protect yourself and those around you from respiratory illnesses, P-02591 is available in multiple languages.
- This is a rapidly evolving situation. Please continue to check this webpage and our COVID-19 webpage for the most up-to-date, accurate information about this outbreak, and what you can do to slow the spread of COVID-19.