, , , ,

Dane County Takes Aggressive Measures In Wake Of Coronavirus Pandemic

Gatherings Of 50 Or More Banned; Schools Close Earlier; Restaurants Ordered To Limit Seating

Chairs are placed at least six feet apart at a meeting room in the Madison Municipal Building to adhere to social distancing recommendations during the coronavirus pandemic. During a March 15, 2020 press conference, Madison and Dane County officials announced additional measures to prevent spread of the disease. Shamane Mills/WPR

Dane County officials announced aggressive preventive measures Sunday affecting schools, restaurants and gatherings of 50 people or more to avert the spread of the new coronavirus.

An additional case of COVID-19 has been confirmed since Friday, bringing the total in Dane County to six people who have been infected. One person has recovered from the ailment.

RELATED: Live: What To Know March 15 About COVID-19 In Wisconsin

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

On Sunday, county and city officials ordered area restaurants to reduce capacity by half, limited the size of some gatherings substantially and closed schools until further notice, according to a press release.

“Schools play a crucial role in providing nutrition and other critical services to students, but they also pose a risk to children and staff with underlying health conditions and their closure can reduce community spread of COVID-19,” said Janel Heinrich, director of Public Health Madison & Dane County, in a news release. “Closing schools and canceling events are a disruption to our lives, but we believe these measures are necessary for the safety of our community.”

Bus service in Madison and Dane County will continue as public health officials work with Madison Metro to ensure passengers stay the recommended six feet apart. City and county leaders say they will announce their plans for other essential operations soon.

City, county, school and University of Wisconsin Hospital officials held a press conference at the Madison Municipal Building on Sunday where they announced additional measures designed to control the pandemic at the local level.

The size of crowds permitted will be scaled back from 250 to 50 people under a countywide directive, which applies to some, but not all places where people congregate. For instance, the Dane County Regional Airport is exempt, as are child care centers and correctional facilities.

Bars are likely to remain open for St. Patrick’s Day. That could change however, officials said.

“Nothing’s off the table. We’re looking at that. We’re hoping that our (large gathering) restrictions will limit enthusiasm for those celebrations,” said Heinrich.