WisContext: Learn More About The Novel Coronavirus, COVID-19 And Wisconsin


Editor’s be aware: This text was initially printed on March 6 and has since been up to date, with the latest modifications made on July 28.


For folks in Wisconsin who’re taken with higher understanding the COVID-19 pandemic and the methods they’ll defend themselves, their households and their communities, listed below are explanations for frequent questions and extra sources.

1. What’s COVID-19, what causes it and the way does it unfold?

COVID-19 is a severe sickness that emerged in central China in late 2019 and subsequently unfold world wide. The illness was first recognized within the U.S. on Jan. 25, 2020, with the primary an infection in Wisconsin introduced on Feb. 5. Circumstances throughout the U.S. quickly elevated over subsequent months, with the entire confirmed rely reaching about 3.5 million by the center of July. The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention is monitoring circumstances and deaths from the illness within the U.S.

The illness is attributable to a coronavirus. These kinds of viruses could cause a number of kinds of diseases, together with harmful illnesses like extreme acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Center East respiratory syndrome (MERS), in addition to the frequent chilly. COVID-19 an infection can have comparatively gentle results, nevertheless it causes extra extreme sickness amongst some sufferers who contract it, and the illness may be deadly. The World Well being Group formally designated the identify of the brand new virus as SARS-CoV-2, and on March 11 declared the widening public well being disaster to be a pandemic.

The virus is known to primarily unfold by means of shut contact between folks through respiratory droplets. Some people who find themselves contaminated however don’t look like in poor health are capable of unfold the virus, however it’s thought that the sicker a person is, the extra contagious they’re. Individuals may additionally turn out to be contaminated after touching a floor that has the virus on it after which touching their face.

2. What are the signs of COVID-19?

The signs of COVID-19 embody fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or problem respiratory, fatigue, muscle or physique aches, headache, new lack of style or scent, sore throat, congestion or runny nostril, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea. These signs can start two days to 2 weeks after preliminary publicity to the virus.

A majority of individuals recognized with COVID-19 have gentle or average signs. The danger of great circumstances will increase with age and for folks with underlying medical situations or who’re immunocompromised.

3. Who’s susceptible to catching COVID-19?

Anyone who’s uncovered to SARS-CoV-2 could also be susceptible to contracting COVID-19, which is spreading in communities across the U.S. Individuals at excessive threat of publicity embody healthcare staff and people with shut contact with somebody recognized with COVID-19. Moreover, many contaminated people could not present signs however nonetheless may unfold the virus by means of respiratory droplets.

4. What’s the standing of COVID-19 in Wisconsin and world wide?

Quite a few circumstances of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Wisconsin and the illness is spreading in communities. State, federal and worldwide public well being companies are working to supply up-to-date on-line details about the standing of COVID-19:

  • The Wisconsin Division of Well being Providers maintains a COVID-19 informational web page with steering for most of the people and healthcare staff. The company additionally maintains an can observe the standing of testing, circumstances, hospitalizations, recoveries and deaths within the state.
  • The Wisconsin Hospital Affiliation is monitoring information associated to COVID-19 hospitalizations and availability of beds, private protecting gear, ventilators and extra across the state.
  • The CDC maintains state-level information about COVID-19 circumstances and deaths.
  • The WHO points common state of affairs experiences in regards to the quantity and areas of COVID-19 circumstances and deaths, and details about public well being protocols and analysis being performed world wide.

The variety of circumstances in Wisconsin began rising quickly throughout the second week of March.

Public well being researchers world wide are additionally monitoring the pandemic, with Johns Hopkins College sustaining an interactive international map of COVID-19 circumstances, fatalities and recoveries.

5. What can folks do in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?

The CDC recommends folks emphasize fundamental hygiene practices like correct handwashing to cut back their threat of an infection. Different prevention practices embody avoiding touching the eyes, nostril and mouth, staying dwelling as a lot as doable, sustaining 6 toes of bodily distance from others in public and carrying a tight-fitting material face protecting in public, avoiding contact with those that are sick, training applicable sneezing and coughing etiquette, and continuously disinfecting objects and surfaces which might be frequently touched.

The CDC maintains that bodily distancing stays one of the simplest ways to gradual the virus’s unfold.

In early April, the CDC started recommending that wholesome folks put on tight-fitting material face coverings whereas in public settings the place bodily distancing suggestions are troublesome to stick to, akin to at grocery shops and pharmacies. The masks steering urged medical-grade masks and respirators be preserved to be used in healthcare settings.

Some native well being departments in Wisconsin have issued mandates requiring using face masks in particular areas.

Medical face masks have been in brief provide in 2020 as international demand has skyrocketed. The CDC is offering steering to healthcare staff who face shortages on methods for conserving masks.

Different methods to answer a neighborhood outbreak are centered on being prepared when day by day life is disrupted. These preparations embody being prepared for self-quarantine or shelter-in-place orders, having a prepared provide of prescription drugs, and having a pair weeks of shelf-stable meals gadgets available.

A transmission electron microscope picture reveals SARS-CoV-2 remoted from a affected person within the U.S. recognized with COVID-19. The crown-like spikes on the outer fringe of the virus particles give coronaviruses their identify.

6. What’s the state’s public well being response to COVID-19?

Public well being officers in Wisconsin started mobilizing for a doable native outbreak of COVID-19 in January when the epidemic remained largely confined to China. Because the illness unfold, Wisconsin officers ready for potential surges in demand for medical care, in addition to for the necessity to isolate sufferers and quarantine people to gradual the unfold of COVID-19.

On March 12, Gov. Tony Evers declared a public well being emergency in Wisconsin, which might run 60 days by means of Could 11. That declaration approved the state Division of Well being Providers to take away regulatory and logistical boundaries to the procurement and distribution of important medical provides, together with private protecting gear and ventilators.

Resulting from a rising variety of confirmed COVID-19 circumstances, the Evers administration issued a stay-at-home order on March 24, which was initially set to run by means of April 24. On April 16, the state prolonged the order by means of Could 26.

The order barred private and non-private gatherings of any measurement outdoors of particular person households. It additionally required companies deemed non-essential to healthcare, childcare, meals provision, transportation, finance and a choose few different providers to shut or require staff to do business from home. The order maintained prior restrictions requiring salons, barbers, day spas and comparable companies to shut and eating places and bars within the state to shutter eating rooms (with takeout and supply nonetheless allowed). The transfer got here after some municipalities had already ordered the closure of most public lodging.

On April 20, the Evers administration unveiled a plan for alleviating motion restrictions and reopening extra workplaces in Wisconsin. Dubbed the “Badger Bounce Again,” the plan referred to as for alleviating restrictions step by step and set benchmarks for doing so. These benchmarks included a sustained downward trajectory in new diseases, expanded COVID-19 testing and beefed up contact tracing, amongst different standards. The plan adopted the administration’s extension of the stay-at-home order and efforts by Republican management within the state Legislature to problem the motion earlier than the state Supreme Court docket.

On Could 13, justices dominated 4-3 in favor of the problem and struck down the stay-at-home order extension. The choice, which took rapid impact, invalidated the order and made it unenforceable. As a substitute, the ruling said the Evers administration would wish to work with the state Legislature’s rulemaking committee when crafting future orders.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court docket’s choice got here lower than 48 hours after Evers’ unique public well being emergency order expired, leaving no statewide orders in impact in response to COVID-19. As a substitute, county and municipal well being departments had been left to set native steering. A number of native public well being departments have issued native orders that set various guidelines for the capability and operation of eating places, taverns and different companies, the dimensions of public gatherings, using face coverings and different actions meant to gradual the unfold of the virus.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court docket’s choice got here lower than 48 hours after Evers’ unique public well being emergency order expired, leaving no statewide orders in impact in response to COVID-19. As a substitute, county and municipal well being departments had been left to set native steering. A number of of the state’s most populous areas issued native orders that largely mirrored the invalidated statewide order, which have been subsequently rescinded, expired or loosened.

The state’s public well being emergency order additionally activated the Wisconsin Nationwide Guard. Members transported dozens of Wisconsin residents dwelling from California after being stranded on an contaminated cruise ship, and subsequently mobilized to supply help to the state or native jurisdictions. Nationwide Guard members have acted as ballot staff assisted with the pandemic response, together with at testing facilities, remedy websites and medical provide warehouses.

On the federal stage, President Donald Trump declared a nationwide emergency on March 13. That declaration allowed the U.S. Division of Well being and Human Providers to waive or modify some federal healthcare rules to help a speedier response. On April 4, the Federal Emergency Administration Company introduced help could be accessible to Wisconsin after granting the state’s request to declare COVID-19 a serious catastrophe.

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Within the absence of statewide public well being restrictions, the state well being division’s technique to handle the continued pandemic is centered on contact tracing with native well being departments taking the lead. The state is offering tracing help to native communities, significantly these dealing with a surge in circumstances.

7. How does COVID-19 testing work in Wisconsin and who can get examined?

Exams for COVID-19 can be found at quite a few areas throughout Wisconsin, together with hospitals, healthcare clinics and momentary testing areas.

Demand for testing outstripped the capability of labs in Wisconsin throughout the outbreak’s early weeks. The restricted availability of testing by means of Wisconsin’s public well being system spurred many personal well being suppliers to develop or buy their very own COVID-19 assessments. These actions considerably expanded the variety of assessments being performed within the state, although shortages of provides remained a difficulty.


On March 30, Gov. Tony Evers introduced a partnership with Wisconsin-based expertise and healthcare firms geared toward strengthening testing provide chains and rapidly doubling the variety of COVID-19 assessments carried out every day. Because of expanded testing capability, state well being officers introduced April 10 they had been enjoyable earlier tips that referred to as for proscribing COVID-19 assessments to hospitalized sufferers, healthcare staff, residents and staff at long-term care amenities and high-risk people.

Starting in early Could, native public well being officers labored with the state and Nationwide Guard to arrange momentary group testing websites the place anybody with signs of COVID-19 might be examined, with some websites drawing massive numbers of residents.

Wisconsin enacted a COVID-19 response bundle on April 15, which requires well being insurers to cowl COVID-19 testing and bars insurers from discriminating in opposition to folks with the illness or who’ve recovered from it. It additionally ensures Wisconsin qualifies for newly accessible federal Medicaid funding. The federal authorities additionally enacted a COVID-19 response bundle that included a provision without spending a dime COVID-19 testing nationwide.

8. How are hospitals, well being clinics, emergency responders and different healthcare amenities like nursing properties responding to COVID-19?

Hospitals and different healthcare amenities in Wisconsin are treating sufferers who’ve contracted COVID-19. These efforts embody in search of to inventory sufficient N95 respirators, robes, gloves, eyewear and different vital medical gear to supply enough care. Hospitals throughout the state reported shortages of medical face masks and different requirements because the outbreak started, and have carried out protocols to preserve their provides and share sources with different amenities.

Hospitals have restricted visitation of sufferers. As a way to put together for a surge in circumstances, hospitals additionally initially canceled elective procedures, although by late April numerous well being programs within the state had been restarting or planning for this kind of remedy as soon as once more. Following the lifting of the state’s stay-at-home order in Could, hospitals throughout the state grappled with the way to restart suspended providers and reorient care whereas dealing with main monetary pressure and surges of illness.

Officers worry a steep rise in circumstances may swamp hospitals. Healthcare professionals are asking residents to proceed to heed public well being steering and stay at dwelling as a lot as doable in an effort to gradual the illness’s unfold.

Medical places of work within the state have screened sufferers earlier than their visits and are asking them to reschedule appointments in the event that they present any respiratory signs. Dental places of work briefly closed, however many resumed operations by late Could with further precautions in place.

Nursing properties and different long-term care amenities have restricted guests for the reason that outbreak began spreading within the state.

Emergency responders throughout the state have ready for doable requires mutual help, whereas these in rural areas have modified how they function.

9. How are faculties responding to COVID-19?

Gov. Tony Evers issued an order mandating the closure of all private and non-private Okay-12 faculties within the state starting March 18. In its extension of the stay-at-home order on April 16, the state introduced faculties would stay closed for the rest of the tutorial 12 months, and a few college districts moved ahead with pass-fail grading scales for college students given challenges posed by digital studying. The state Supreme Court docket’s Could 13 ruling invalidating the state’s stay-at-home order didn’t have an effect on college closures, which the bulk mentioned may stay in impact with no clear authorized rationalization.

On the pandemic’s outset, the Wisconsin Division of Public Instruction supplied pandemic data to districts, together with steering associated to closures and for the way to speak with youngsters in regards to the dangers of COVID-19. The uncertainties and disruptions surrounding COVID-19 could also be significantly alarming for kids, and fogeys are really helpful to share data and reply questions.

In late June, the company launched tips for a way native college districts function within the fall. The suggestions outlined a wide range of doable schedules that may combine in-person and digital instruction. Every of Wisconsin’s 421 college districts would retain the flexibility to set its personal schedules and protocols.

The CDC has supplied steering for elementary and excessive faculties and for schools and universities to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March, UW System campuses and personal universities halted classroom instruction, inspired college students to maneuver from dormitories, canceled university-sponsored journey, and canceled spring graduation ceremony plans. Summer season programs have additionally gone on-line, although UW campuses introduced plans to restart in-person instruction within the fall, which can embody testing all college students, school and employees for COVID-19.

Some Wisconsin schools moved towards cross/fail grading for the spring 2020 semester, and numerous private and non-private universities within the state deliberate to refund college students tens of thousands and thousands of {dollars} related to room and board and campus charges.

The ensuing monetary pressure prompted the UW System Administration and UW campuses to require staff to take unpaid day off. The UW System moreover introduced layoffs affecting dozens of staff on the finish of Could. UW System President Ray Cross additionally outlined a restructuring proposal that may eradicate a point applications and affiliated school and employees on many campuses.

10. What suggestions do public well being officers have for closing and reopening workplaces and public gatherings, and for the standing of journey?

Officers from the state Division of Well being Providers are recommending that folks do business from home if doable until they’re employed in a vital sector. On March 24, the company intensified an present ban on public gatherings, prohibiting all private and non-private gatherings of any measurement outdoors of particular person households, apart from some amenities thought-about important infrastructure. The ban had a serious impression on enterprise within the state and jobless claims skyrocketed, straining the state’s unemployment system and exposing underlying issues.

The CDC gives suggestions for a way workplaces, first responders, healthcare amenities and organizers of mass gatherings handle the COVID-19 pandemic.

The WHO developed a set of situations it recommends needs to be met earlier than officers start enjoyable restrictions on gatherings and public motion because the pandemic progresses and native outbreaks start to subside.

Native governments throughout Wisconsin have explored methods to spice up sectors of the economic system closely impacted by motion and enterprise restrictions whereas adhering to ongoing public well being tips. One effort explores growth of out of doors seating at eating places.

Giant public gatherings within the state, together with summertime concert events and festivals, proceed to be canceled, postponed or radically downsized because of the pandemic, together with Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Honest and the Democratic Nationwide Conference slated for Milwaukee.

The pandemic can be affecting each home and worldwide air journey. Many countries have closed their borders, and the land borders between the U.S. and Canada and Mexico have been ordered to shut to most site visitors. On March 19, the U.S. State Division warned Individuals in opposition to all worldwide journey. By mid-summer, U.S. residents had been banned from entry to most nations.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a quickly altering public well being state of affairs, and the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention is offering up to date data and steering as every turns into accessible. WisContext, PBS Wisconsin and Wisconsin Public Radio are persevering with to report on COVID-19 and its standing in Wisconsin. Ongoing protection is obtainable right here.