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Live: What To Know March 14 About COVID-19 In Wisconsin

As Of Saturday, Number Of Total Cases Of COVID-19 In State Rose To 27

A nurse at a drive up COVID-19 coronavirus testing station
A nurse at a drive up COVID-19 coronavirus testing station, set up by the University of Washington Medical Center, holds a swab used to take a sample from the nose of a person in their car, Friday, March 13, 2020, in Seattle. UW Medicine is conducting drive-thru testing in a hospital parking garage and has screened hundreds of staff members, faculty and trainees for the COVID-19 coronavirus. Ted S. Warren/AP Photo

School closures, event cancellations, working from home and long lines at area grocery stores are becoming common occurrences throughout Wisconsin as many brace for the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 — the disease caused by the new coronavirus — is increasing. As of Saturday afternoon, the number of total cases in the state rose to 27, according to the state Department of Health Services.

Gov. Tony Evers Friday ordered all public schools in the state to close in hopes of slowing the spread of the illness. The governor’s move will affect nearly a million students and their families. Earlier in the week, the governor declared a public health emergency.

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As the effects of the virus continue to evolve, 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:

4 PM: Moratorium On Mass Gatherings Expanded In Dane County

Thursday evening Dane County Public Health issued an order against large worship services of 250 people or more.

Public and private Mass Gatherings are now prohibited during the novel coronavirus pandemic in the City of Madison and Dane County.

“Limiting large gatherings of people is an important tool to prevent the spread of illness. We would like to thank all the places of worship who have taken measures to protect their patron’s health and safety regardless of gathering size,” said Janel Heinrich, director of Public Health Madison & Dane County.

3 PM: Total Number Of COVID-19 Cases In State Rises To 27

According to DHS, the total number of cases of COVID-19 in Wisconsin rose to 27 as of Saturday afternoon.

Now that more labs are able to test for COVID-19, Wisconsin clinicians can order tests without public health approval, according to the DHS website.

To stay healthy, the department suggests people wash their hands often, cover their coughs and sneezes and stay home when sick.

1:30 PM: Milwaukee County Closes Zoo, County Parks’ Facilities And Events

The Milwaukee County Zoo, Milwaukee County parks facilities and Milwaukee County senior centers will be closed to the public “until further notice,” according to a news release issued by the Milwaukee County Executive’s office on Saturday afternoon.

“The health and safety of Milwaukee County residents and visitors is our top priority, so we must continue to put our full weight behind ensuring we are prepared for COVID-19,” Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said in the statement. “Closing our large public facilities is the best way to serve our residents and protect our community at this time, and we look forward to re-opening as soon as it is safe to do so.”

In the county parks, the closed facilities include Mitchell Park Domes, Noyes Indoor Pool, Pulaski Indoor Pool, King Community Center, Kosciusko Community Center, Milwaukee County Sports Complex, Wehr Nature Center visitor center, Boerner Botanical Gardens Visitor Center, Wilson Recreation Center & Ice Arena and Wil-O-Way facilities at Grant and Underwood.

While the county parks’ public venues will be closed and all scheduled events are canceled, officials said that parks trails and “outdoor amenities including dog parks, disc golf courses and self-pay golf courses will remain open.” Parks staff will continue to maintain the parks and facilities and Park Rangers will continue their patrols.

The statements said that all zoo and Zoological Society events and programs were canceled starting on Sunday.

11 AM: Every Player On Bucks Roster Donates To Hourly Workers At Fiserv Forum, Organization Matches It

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo announced Friday on Twitter that he’d donate $100,000 to help Fiserv Forum employees impacted by the NBA’s suspension. It didn’t take long for all of his teammates to follow suit.

The Bucks organization will match the players’ donations to a fund that will pay hourly workers while the league is on hiatus. At least 10 home games have been postponed due to the shutdown.

The NBA suspended its season Wednesday after a player on the Utah Jazz tested positive for the new coronavirus.

LATE FRIDAY: State Elections Commission Encourages Absentee Voting

The Wisconsin Elections Commission issued a news release Friday night that “strongly urges” residents concerned about the outbreak to make plans to submit an absentee ballot for the April 7 spring election and presidential primary.

Meagan Wolfe, the state’s chief elections official, said in the statement that those who need to register to vote should do so by Wednesday, March 18. “We want everyone who is eligible and who wants to vote to be able to do so safely,” she said.

Officials said people can check their registration status at myvote.wi.gov, click on “My Voter Info.”

The release also said that the Elections Commission was working with county and municipal clerks “to help them prepare for a safe and healthy election. The WEC is holding three webinars throughout the day Monday for clerks.” Officials said the election commission was also collaborating with the Wisconsin Emergency Management and DHS.

LATE FRIDAY: Evers Orders All Public Schools Closed

On Friday afternoon, Gov. Tony Evers ordered all public schools in the state to close in hopes of slowing the spread of the illness. The governor’s move will affect nearly a million students and their families.

Evers decided to issue the order after state health officials announced that the number of confirmed infections in Wisconsin has more than doubled, from eight on Thursday to 19 on Friday.

State Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk told reporters before the closure announcement that the goal is to slow the spread so hospitals aren’t overwhelmed.

In a statement Evers said, “Closing our schools is not a decision I made lightly, but keeping our kids, our educators, our families, and our communities safe is a top priority as we continue our work to respond to and prevent further spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin.”

Evers noted the importance of schools in providing children access food and care, and reiterated that the state will “continue working to do everything we can to ensure kids and families have the resources and support they need while schools are closed.”

LATE FRIDAY: Wisconsin National Guard Transporting Wisconsin Residents Home For Self-Quarantine

Approximately 30 Wisconsin National Guard members were mobilized Friday to transport Wisconsinites returning to the state from a cruise ship with confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to a press release.

No one returning from the cruise has tested positive for COVID-19, but they will be returning to their homes to self-quarantine for two weeks.

National Guard Cpl. Jose Perezvilla was happy to help.

“It gives me a sense of fulfillment of what I enlisted for, which was to help the people of the state of Wisconsin,” Perezvilla said in the release. “Now we actually get to put some of that into action and help out the people of the state.”

Participating troops will self-monitor for 14 days following the mission, even though the people they’re transporting haven’t tested positive for the disease.