Douglas County confirms first case of COVID-19

Updated: March 20, 2020 10:09 PM

Douglas County, Wisconsin, has its first confirmed case of COVID-19.  In a news release Friday, Douglas County Public Health announced the first case, saying it is likely associated with travel.


Authorities said the individual is isolated at home and doing well.

Douglas County Public Health said it is identifying and contacting anyone that has been in close contact with the positive case.

Since news of the case broke Friday morning, leaders in Douglas County have worked to execute a number of precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the disease. They say—they’ve been prepared for this day for some time.

“We’ve had a lot of support in preparing for this, just knowing it was inevitable that it would come to our community,” Kathy Ronchi, Health Officer & Public Health Supervisor for Douglas County said.

In order to prevent the spread among community members, the county will limit the public's access to the court house and the government center.

“We’re trying to make sure that we lesson the contact of that public sector that is not necessary,” Mark Liebaert, County Board Chair said.

All non-essential court activities and jury trials scheduled through June 1st will be canceled. However, essential court activities will continue.

“The types of cases that we’ll be doing obviously that we’ll have to continue to do will be defendants that are arrested, in custody. We’ll need to continue to do bail hearings, preliminary hearings in felony cases, if we have children that are taken into emergency protection, we’ll need to continue to handle those,” Judge George Glonek of Douglas County said.

The county will also do their best to protect employees and accommodate them working from home.

“We’re asking employees not to travel if they don’t have to and if they do have to travel or are coming back from traveling, we’re evaluating where they’ve been to see if we have to ask them to stay home,” Liebaert said.

During this time, the county is placing a high emphasis on vulnerable populations and key personnel.

“If you are sick and if you are sick enough to need to be tested or see a doctor or not go to work or whatever the case might be, then you are too sick to be in the community. Don’t go shopping, don’t go to the grocery store,” Ronchi said.

“We don't want it in the jail, we surely don't want it in the police department, the fire department, you know, all these services that are held by government, you know,” Liebaert said.

The case comes a day after a case was reported in Bayfield County. There have been no other cases reported in northern Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported Friday that there have been a total of 206 confirmed cases of coronavirus in 29 counties in the state. There have been deaths in Fond du Lac, Milwaukee, and Ozaukee counties.

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