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August 7, 2020

4/10/2020 7:29:00 AM
Oneida County up to five confirmed cases of COVID-19
River News Staff

Local health officials have announced two more COVID-19 infections in Oneida County, bringing the county's total to five, as of Wednesday afternoon.

According to an Oneida County Health Department press release, the fourth infected individual "is in their 50s and has not had contact with any of the previously confirmed cases in the county."

"The individual has a history of travel outside of the community and is currently in isolation," the release states.

The fifth infected individual "is in their 70s and has not had contact with any of the previously confirmed cases in the county, nor traveled outside of the community," the department announced. "The individual is currently hospitalized."

County health officials are working to determine how both individuals became infected and are contacting others with whom they had close contact.

As of press time, there are four confirmed COVID-19 cases in neighboring Vilas County. The latest infected individual, announced over the weekend, is a 45-year-old woman with a known travel history, according to the Vilas County Health Department. She is in isolation, according to a department press release.

Linda Conlon, Oneida County Health Department Director/Health Officer, continues to ask the community to follow Gov. Evers' Safer At Home order and stay at home as much as possible.

"Because COVID-19 transmission is now widespread throughout Wisconsin, even people who have not traveled outside of their community should minimize their contact with others by staying home when possible, practicing social distancing, and being alert for symptoms of COVID-19," Conlon noted. There is an urgent need to restrict movement and stay home as much as possible. In addition, people should continue to:

• Frequently and thoroughly wash hands with soap and water

• Cover coughs and sneezes

• Avoid touching your face

• Stay home when sick

• Practice social and physical distancing

• Avoid large gatherings and crowds

In addition to the above recommendations, the CDC has also updated their guidance encouraging the public to wear cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g. grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas with community-based transmission.

Symptoms of COVID‐19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you think you may have COVID‐19, you should call the clinic or hospital before going. Please do not call 9‐1‐1; this should be reserved for those needing critical emergency attention.

In an effort to keep the public up to date on COVID-19, OCHD is continuing to update its Facebook page daily, Monday-Friday, with current COVID-19 case counts. This will include the number of individuals tested in Oneida County, negative test results, pending test results, as well as any additional positive test results.

"This is a rapidly evolving situation," the release states. "This is what we know now, and information may change. To read the latest information about COVID-19 check the Oneida County Health Department website ( or Facebook page (, the Department of Health Services (DHS) website ( and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website ("

Safer at Home and Faith-Based Gatherings  

On March 24 Gov. Evers' issued a Safer at Home order, allowing travel for essential activities only. During this time, government and faith communities throughout Wisconsin need to work together in slowing the spread of COVID-19, Oneida County health officials said in a separate press release issued Wednesday morning.

"Safer at Home allows individuals to leave their homes for limited essential activities, including shopping for groceries, obtaining medicine, and caring for a family member in another household," the release states. "Essential businesses and operations are also allowable, though physical distancing and other safety measures are required to keep employees and customers safe. The order does not allow for gatherings of more than 10 people in a room or confined space at a time. A confined space is not only limited to indoor gatherings, but also includes any defined space, including parking lots and festival grounds. This includes religious gatherings, drive-in services, weddings, and funerals. Any gathering with fewer than 10 people must still adhere to physical distancing requirements by staying at least six feet from others and staying home if you are sick. It is also important to limit gatherings only to people living within the same household to avoid transmitting the virus through social networks."

"While we understand that this is a holiday season for many, we want to reiterate the importance faith-based communities have in helping us slow the spread of COVID-19," the release continues. "Physical distancing is our only defense against this virus. Community, faith- and spiritual-based organizations have an important role in slowing the spread of COVID-19, especially among high-risk populations. Often Faith-Based Organizations nobly serve those who are most vulnerable, such as older people and those with serious underlying health conditions, like heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes, who are at higher risk for developing severe COVID-19 illness."

"I know it is hard not to have the congregation physically together during this time and we appreciate that faith communities continue to support the Safer At Home order by offering religious services in ways that do not bring people together physically," Conlon said. "For many in our communities, coming together to practice our religious and spiritual beliefs provides hope, strength and social connectedness. We look forward to the day we can again allow in-person gatherings to take place. In the meantime, we ask that you stay connected with one another through phone calls, video chats, text messages, and other ways."

Thankfully, with modern technology there are many creative options available for nurturing spiritual health during this challenging time, the release states. Many churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and other places of worship are offering services through television, radio, podcasts, and livestreams on the Internet. "Individually, and as families, taking time to be mindful, meditate, and pray is important for spiritual health while we all do our part to keep our community safe while staying safer at home," Conlon noted.

Religious and spiritual leaders should continue to stay up-to-date on information related to the pandemic and actively disseminate accurate and timely information. This includes developing information-sharing systems with partners, including local health officials, and communicating this information to regular attendees, people being served by the organization, and the broader community, the release states.

Oneida County Health Department seeking donations of hand-sewn masks

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that cloth face coverings (masks) be worn in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain such as grocery stores, pharmacies, etc. Wearing these masks in public facilities will help slow the spread of the virus. Research shows that a large portion of individuals with coronavirus (COVID-19) lack symptoms and that even those who eventually develop symptoms can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close settings. For example this may happen when people are speaking, coughing, or sneezing, even if those people are not showing symptoms. Wearing a mask will decrease the risk of giving or getting the virus.

The health department will collect donated masks and wrap each one individually to give to local areas of need. Donations can be dropped off between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) reception desk, located on the first floor of the ADRC and Health Department building located at 100 W Keenan St, near Trigs. Please put your donated masks in a sealed bag with an attached card that includes your name and mailing address.

If you would like to donate and are unable to drop off, call Sherri between 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at (715) 369 - 6111 to see if other arrangements can be made.

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