MON AM News: Dane County moves into phase 2 of reopening today; State COVID-19 deaths reach 692

— Dane County will move to phase 2 of its reopening plan today. 

“Businesses and workplaces are reopening with required measures to help contain the spread of disease, but COVID-19 is very much still in our community,” said Janel Heinrich, director of Public Health Madison & Dane County. “We need our community to remain vigilant and careful as we move to new phases so we don’t see a spike in cases.”

Phase 2 of Forward Dane will be effective 8 a.m. today after the county met its health metrics: more than half of the metrics are green, and none of the epidemiological metrics, such as daily new cases and positive test rates, are red. 

The order to move forward allows businesses to run at 50 percent capacity. Other changes include: allowing indoor gatherings of 50 people or fewer; allowing outdoor gatherings of 100 or fewer; opening of parks and playgrounds; and updating requirements for sports, schools and childcare.

At least 14 days from now, the county can move to phase 3 if more than half of the metrics are still green and none of the metrics in Dane County or the Southern Region is red. Businesses in phase 3 would be able to operate at 75 percent capacity

See Public Health’s release: 

Read the order, Forward Dane here:  

See a detailed breakdown of the plan here: 

Read more about the plan’s health metrics here: 

— In collaboration with Public Health Madison & Dane County, Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce launched #JustAsk, a campaign to strengthen public confidence in area businesses.

According to a release from GMCC, #JustAsk is meant to encourage people to feel comfortable asking questions about the steps businesses are taking to provide safe spaces as Madison and southern Wisconsin open up. 

“As our region continues to reopen, we also want to bolster public confidence by sharing the many changes businesses are implementing to ensure the health and safety of their employees and customers,” GMCC said. 

The chamber released a flyer for display to encourage customers to ask about policies and procedures being implemented to keep them safe. 

See the flyer: 

— The state’s COVID-19 death count is at 692, four new deaths since Friday and one removed due to duplication. 

Over the weekend, Racine had two more deaths while Green and Milwaukee counties each had one more — Green with its first. One death was removed from Dane County’s count. 

Plus, 240 new COVID-19 cases since Saturday brings the cumulative case count to 22,758. 

The seven-day average of new cases has been declining since June 8. The positive tests as a percentage of total tests rose slightly to 2.6 percent from 2.4 percent Saturday.

The number of recovered patients continues to rise, now at an estimated 73 percent, while 3 percent of patients have died. Twenty-four percent are still in a 30-day waiting period of symptom onset or diagnosis.

Counties reporting deaths include: Milwaukee (350), Racine (54), Brown (38), Kenosha (36), Waukesha (34), Dane (30), Rock (21), Walworth (17), Ozaukee (13), Grant (12), Washington (11), Winnebago (9), Outagamie (8), Fond du Lac (6), Clark (4), Dodge (4), Jefferson (4), Richland (4) and Sheboygan (4).

Door, Marinette, Sauk and Waupaca counties report three deaths each. Buffalo, Calumet and Forest counties report two deaths each.

Adams, Bayfield, Burnett, Columbia, Green, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Marathon, Marquette, Monroe, Polk and Wood counties report one death each.

Click here for more coronavirus resources and updates:  

— Racine County now has the highest infected person ratio per population in the state at 10.2 per 1,000 people. 

“There is not any one factor that we would point to,” said Racine County spokesman Mark Schaaf on Friday. “We do know that unfortunately, COVID-19 disproportionately impacted communities of color.”

Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer of the Bureau of Communicable Diseases, said immigration status and ethnicity play no role in the risk of contracting COVID-19. Exposure due to proximity is a significant factor, he said, such as working in an environment without physical distancing between employees or face masks.

Health officials are pointing to poor social determinants of health in minority communities, such as stable housing, living wage jobs, excellent education, safe neighborhood nourishing food, as to why communities of color are experiencing higher rates of infection. 

“Undoubtedly, there are issues within the healthcare system that need to be addressed including inequitable access and unconscious bias of some providers,” said Dr. John Raymond, president of the Medical College of Wisconsin. “But I think the problem is more of a reflection of the many contributors of health, especially the social determinants of health. At the end of the day, those are as important or maybe even more so than the quality of healthcare.”

The county’s census tract, COVID-19 dashboard indicates that the highest case numbers are in areas where the majority population is people of color. 

Racine’s nonwhite population accounts for 35.8 percent of the city’s population, over double that of the county’s 16.6 percent nonwhite population.

“The fact that people of color are disproportionately impacted, we are very much aware of and very much want to change,” said Schaaf. “We’re talking a lot about that and try to strategize ways to do that.” 

He noted that after a spike in May, the June daily case numbers have started to go down. 

“It’s looking better, but by no means are we out of the woods,” he said. “This is something that will be impacting our county for some time to come.”

The county is third in the state for number of cumulative confirmed cases at 1,989, behind Milwaukee (9,511) and Brown (2,469) counties, and second in the state for the number of deaths, behind Milwaukee County. See above.

Both the Racine City Public Health Department and the Central Racine County Health Department are communicating to its residents to practice social distancing, wear face masks in public and wash hands.

The City of Racine issued a public health order immediately after the state Supreme Court decision to stop Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home extension. Starting May 26, Racine started “Forward Racine” that allowed businesses to open with restrictions such as capacity. According to the order, June 30 is when businesses can open further, but large gatherings for example, won’t be able to happen until after July 31.

See the order here:

— COVID-19 hospital patients statewide are on the decline, now numbering 291. This weekend’s patient numbers — Friday at 287 and Saturday at 285  — are the lowest since April 4. 

About 71 percent of those patients — 207 — are in southeastern Wisconsin, which is also seeing a decline.

According to data from the Wisconsin Hospital Association, the state’s COVID-19 ICU patients are at 101 and COVID-19 inpatients with pending tests number 181, both less than the week before. 

Of the state’s confirmed cases, 13 percent have been hospitalized and 3 percent have received intensive care, according to DHS.

The department also reports that 32 or fewer patients are in each of the six other public health regions of the state.

WHA data show that statewide, Wisconsin seems to have a stable and adequate supply of beds and ventilators. Hospitals have a total of 1,270 ventilators and 310 ventilated patients.

ICU beds immediately available in the state number 363 out of 1,485 total in Wisconsin; intermediate care beds — 158 out of 841; surgical beds — 1,471 out of 7,251; and isolation beds — beds in negative pressure rooms meant for isolating patients — 1,050 out of 1,929.

But according to data from DHS, southeastern Wisconsin has only 21 percent of its beds available.

— Hospitals continue to lack personal protective equipment for health care workers.

The WHA data show that 29 hospitals have a seven-day or less supply of face shields, 42 have a limited supply of goggles, 32 have limited N95 masks, 34 have a limited supply of gowns and 29 hospitals have limited paper medical masks.

Health care workers account for about 10 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases — 2,209.


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