Live: What To Know March 27 About COVID-19 In Wisconsin

Number Of Total Cases Of COVID-19 In State Is Rising

A green-and-orange playground structure. A sign in front of it declares the playground is closed and encourages people to practice social distancing.
In this March 25, 2020 photo, a playground in Monona is closed for the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Tony Evers’s stay-at-home order keeps parks open, but requires that playground structures close, to slow the spread of COVID-19. Miranda Suarez/WPR

With more testing available, the number of positive cases of COVID-19 in the state continues to grow.

The state Department of Health Services announced Friday there are 842 positive cases of COVID-19 statewide, as well as 13,140 negative tests. However, the number continues to grow as counties announce positive cases. As of Friday evening, the statewide death total due to COVID-19 was 15.

The Evers administrations’ stay-at-home order went into effect Wednesday morning, prohibiting non-essential travel, with some exceptions. For more information on that order, read this story answering frequently asked questions.

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As the response to the virus evolves, Wisconsin Public Radio will be keeping track of up-to-date happenings here, and in our broadcast and online coverage. If you have questions or concerns about COVID-19 — either about the virus, prevention or preparation — ask us and we’ll do our best to answer.

For explanations for common questions and additional information about COVID resources, read WisContext’s story listing 10 things to know about the pandemic and public health in the state.

For a compilation of all WPR’s coverage, visit WPR’s Coronavirus In Wisconsin section.

Here are the latest updates on the new coronavirus in Wisconsin:

9:25 PM: UW-Madison Health Officials Ask Students Who Traveled On Spring Break To Self-Quarantine

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s University Health Services (UHS) have asked students who traveled on spring break to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Dr. G. Patrick Kelly, the UHS interim medical director, said in a statement Friday that “if you traveled for Spring Break, whether or not you have symptoms, it is imperative that you observe a 14-day self-quarantine.”

Kelly advised students who traveled not to report to work or travel to a different location. He said that they should remain at their current location.

He said students experiencing any symptoms identified with COVID-19 should follow the school’s instructions for self-isolation. He added that if symptoms worsen or if they have questions, to contact their primary care provider or call UHS at 608-265-5600.

8:40 PM: Milwaukee County Medical Examiner Announces Another COVID-19-Related Death

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office announced Friday night that a 55-year-old Milwaukee woman had died from complications of COVID-19.

Officials said that the woman died shortly after arriving at a local hospital Thursday, and that tests confirmed she had COVID-19.

The woman’s death brings that statewide death toll related to COVID-19 to 15, including nine deaths in Milwaukee County alone.

4:15 PM: Governor Issues Order Simplifying Health Care License Renewals

Gov. Tony Evers and the state Department of Health Services issued an order Friday afternoon that would simplify health care license renewals during the COVID-19 public health emergency and encourage recently retired professionals with expired licenses to re-enter practice.

The order allows practitioners who are licensed in a different state to practice in Wisconsin without first requiring an in-state credential.

The order also provides some flexibility to physician assistants, who had previously called for emergency action from the administration.

The order is effective immediately and will remain in effect through the duration of the public health emergency.

2:10 PM: Dane County Issues Text Alert To Residents

Text alert to Dane County residents about COVID-19
Dane County residents received a text message the afternoon of March, 27, 2020 saying “if you leave home, assume you were exposed to COVID-19,” and encouraging residents to stay at home. Bram Sable-Smith/WPR

The Dane County Emergency Operations Center issued a text alert Friday afternoon to residents relating to the continuing need to isolate because of COVID-19.

“Only leave home if it is essential,” the alert said. “If you leave home, assume you were exposed to COVID-19.”

The alert advises that if residents develop symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, they should isolate themselves immediately.

1:50 PM: 842 Confirmed COVID-19 Cases In Wisconsin

The state Department of Health Services announced Friday there are 842 positive cases of COVID-19 statewide, as well as 13,140 negative tests. However, the number continues to grow as counties announce positive cases.

According to figures from DHS and local health officials, 14 people in Wisconsin have died of COVID-19 as of Friday afternoon. There has been one death each in Fond du Lac, Iron and Dane counties, three in Ozaukee County, and eight in Milwaukee County.

Between Thursday and Friday, the number of positive cases jumped by 135, and the number of negative test results increased 1,557.

1:15 PM: Governor’s Order Suspends Evictions, Foreclosures

Gov. Tony Evers and the state Department of Health Services have issued an order suspending evictions and foreclosures during the public health crisis.

The order, which will last 60 days, prohibits landlords from evicting tenants, except in cases where failure to proceed with an eviction will result in an imminent threat of serious physical harm to another person. It also prohibits mortgagees from beginning civil action to foreclose on real estate.

Wisconsinites who are able to continue to meet their financial obligations are urged to do so.

“Evictions and foreclosures pose a direct and serious threat to the health and well-being of Wisconsinites,” Evers said in a press release. “Ensuring they are able to keep a roof over their heads and those in social services can prioritize assisting those who currently do not have shelter is critically important.”

12:35 PM: Evers Asks Legislature To Send Absentee Ballots To All Registered Voters

In a video announcement on Twitter, Gov. Tony Evers asked the state Legislature to take action to send an absentee ballot to every registered voter in Wisconsin. Wisconsin has an election on April 7, which includes the Democratic presidential primary, a state Supreme Court race and local races.

“I know this is a difficult time, and I know everyone is doing the best they can to stay safe. The bottom line is that everybody should be able to participate in our democracy, period,” Evers said in the video.

The governor’s request comes one day after Wisconsin’s Republican leaders criticized county clerks in Madison and Milwaukee for telling voters they could indicate they are “indefinitely confined” when filling out an online form to request a mail-in ballot. This would allow people to bypass state voter ID requirements.

10:30 AM: 2 Additional Deaths Reported At Grafton Senior Assisted Living Community

The Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department has reported two additional people have died from complications related to COVID-19 in Ozaukee County. This makes three total deaths related to the outbreak at Village Pointe Commons senior living community in Grafton.

According to a press release, Public Health Officer Kirsten Johnson has issued new orders related to personal protective equipment, long-term care staff travel and medical transport.

“We continue to urge the community to please stay home,” Johnson said. “We do not want other families to lose loved ones.”

The health department continues to monitor the outbreak at Village Pointe Commons and at five other long-term care facilities in Washington and Ozaukee counties.

8:55 AM: Voting Groups, Unions Sue To Force Election Postponement

A coalition of voting rights groups and labor unions have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to postpone Wisconsin’s spring election. The coalition filed the lawsuit Thursday evening in Madison.

The groups want a judge to postpone the April 7 election at least until Gov. Tony Evers’ stay-at-home order expires. Right now the order ends April 24 but Evers could decide to extend it.

They also want the judge to lift requirements that absentee voters include copies of proof-of-residency documents and photo IDs with ballot applications, and prohibit state election officials from enforcing in-person voting requirements until the stay-at-home order expires.

8:54 AM: 2 Dane County Jail Inmates Test Positive For COVID-19

Two inmates in the Dane County Jail have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Associated Press. Results are currently pending on six other inmates who are in isolation.

The Dane County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday night all eight of the inmates were tested after they had fevers. The sheriff’s office said nine more inmates who had contact with some of the eight have been removed from the general population as a precaution, but none had symptoms.

There are four confirmed cases among workers at prisons in the Wisconsin Department of Corrections state system. The state halted new prison admissions Monday, sending inmates to county jails instead.

6 AM: Coronavirus Deaths Climb To 12 In Wisconsin

Wisconsin saw four deaths due to COVID-19 Thursday, including three in Milwaukee County, bringing the state’s total to 12.

Thursday night, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office announced the death of a 69-year-old man from complications of the new coronavirus. A tweet stated he had been hospitalized since Wednesday.

Iron County, also reported its first case and death from COVID-19.

THURSDAY: Northern Wisconsin Sees First Death Due To Novel Coronavirus

Iron County is reporting its first case and death due to COVID-19.

“We are saddened by this death and our hearts go out to the family, friends, and community,” said Katie Hampston, director of Iron County Public Health in a release. “We strongly encourage our residents to stay safer at home unless activities are essential. That is the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of our community.”

The news comes as another northern Wisconsin county reported evidence of community spread of the virus Thursday.

THURSDAY: State Insurance Commissioner Calls On Companies To Maintain Health Insurance For Furloughed Workers

Commissioner Mark Afable issued a statement Thursday calling on health insurance companies to allow small employers to maintain health insurance for furloughed employees or those working reduced hours.

The statement said health insurers often only insure “active status” employees, or those working at least 30 hours per week. But Afable said workers at small businesses may not meet that standard under the new “stay-at-home” order.

“We know that small businesses are doing their best to retain employees even if it means reducing hours or furloughing them. But these changes shouldn’t mean an employee loses access to their health insurance. We’re urging insurers to work in partnership with Wisconsin’s small businesses to help keep folks insured and healthy,” said Afable in the statement.

THURSDAY: Gov. Tony Evers Announces PPE Initiative

In order to protect those on the frontlines of the response to COVID-19, Gov. Tony Evers launched an initiative designed to get more personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gowns, gloves and masks.

Wisconsinites can go to to donate or sell large quantities of PPE to the state of Wisconsin — who will work to get it to communities that need it the most.

“As we face a global shortage of PPE, and are competing with other states to acquire limited resources, I am calling on companies, schools, and other organizations that may have unused protective equipment sitting in their facilities to make those materials available to those who need it most,” Evers said in a press release.

The state is seeking the following items:

  • Surgical gowns (S, L, XL, and XXL)
  • Face/surgical masks (adult, pediatric)
  • Gloves (nitrile, vinyl, or butyl)
  • N-95 particulate respirators
  • Isolation gowns
  • Face shields
  • Tyvek coveralls
  • Thermometers
  • Foot coverings