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

As Of Sunday, Number Of Total Cases Of COVID-19 In State Rose To 33

Woodman's East sign in Madison
Signs at Woodman’s East in Madison limit the amount of supplies customers are able to buy amid preparations for COVID-19. Jenny Peek/WPR

The number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in Wisconsin has jumped to 33.

The outbreak of COVID-19 — the disease caused by the new coronavirus — has lead to sweeping changes to daily life and prompted many Wisconsinites to alter their routines to thwart the spread of the ailment.

Gov. Tony Evers on Friday ordered all public schools in the state to close. 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:

7:15 PM: CDC Recommends Canceling All Events Involving 50 Or More People

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday night that they recommend all in-person events involving 50 people or more be called off for the next eight weeks.

4 PM: CDC To Assist With Fond Du Lac County Contact Investigations

Members of the CDC will begin working with the local health department and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services on Monday to conduct contact investigations on the individuals in Fond du Lac County who recently tested positive for the new coronavirus.

Nine of the county’s 11 COVID-19 cases have been linked to travel on a Nile River cruise, health officer Kim Miller said Sunday. Miller said three of the 11 people diagnosed with the virus in Fond du Lac County have been hospitalized. The others are isolated in their homes.

Miller said the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene is returning test results to patients within 24 to 48 hours.

3:35 PM: With April 7 Primary Still On, Milwaukee Officials Seek Younger Volunteers

There are no plans, at this time, to postpone the April 7 primary election in Wisconsin.

However, with more than half of the poll workers 70 years old or older, Milwaukee city officials Sunday made a plea for younger volunteers.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett suggested students who are home because their schools are closed to limit the spread of new coronavirus work the polls.

“This is an excellent opportunity for high school and college students to make sure this democracy is run in an effective manner,” Barrett said.

Barrett also urged people to consider their voting options including bringing their own ballpoint pen to the polls, voting early or absentee voting.

Early voting begins Monday. Absentee ballots can be requested on the state’s website.

2:30 PM: DHS Releases Latest Figures Showing 33 Confirmed Cases In Wisconsin

An additional person has tested positive for the new coronavirus in Milwaukee County, according to numbers from DHS released Sunday afternoon. The number of Milwaukee County cases is now seven.

Five people tested positive for the virus late Saturday night in Fond du Lac County, bringing the total number of cases there to 11 and raising the statewide total to 33.

2:15 PM: Madison, Dane County Schools To Close

Public Health Madison & Dane County officials announced on Sunday that all Dane County schools, including those in the Madison Metropolitan School District, will be closing immediately to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“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 the statement. “Closing schools and canceling events are a disruption to our lives, but we believe these measures are necessary for the safety of our community.”

Health officials directive to close on Monday is happening earlier than Evers had ordered on Friday.

Officials also issued a county-wide directive to stop gatherings of 50 or more people. “This order will continue until further notice,” according to the county’s news release.

Restaurants in Dane County will also have to reduce seating capacity by 50 percent.

9:25 AM: DHS Secretary Andrea Palm Discusses Test Availability In Wisconsin

Two private labs in Wisconsin are preparing to begin processing tests for the new coronavirus, state DHS Secretary Andrea Palm told Capital City Sunday.

She said private companies will play a critical role in expanding the state’s testing capacity as the virus continues to spread. The State Laboratory of Hygiene and the city of Milwaukee are able to manage the current rate of tests, Palm said.

But that could soon change as the state has expanded its testing guidelines. Initially, a person could be tested for COVID-19 only if they had traveled to a high-risk area or come in direct contact with someone who had been confirmed to have the virus, Palm said.

“Our most recent guidance expanded who can be tested to a place where if you have symptoms, and your doctor thinks those symptoms require a test, that test should be done,” she said.

She added that anyone who suspects they may have the virus should call their primary care physician before visiting a doctor’s office or clinic.

9 AM: Fond Du Lac County Confirms 5 Additional COVID-19 Cases Bringing Local Total To 11

The Fond du Lac County Health Department received the results of 30 COVID-19 tests Saturday night. Health officer Kim Miller confirmed Sunday that five of those tests were positive, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the county to 11.

Four of the positive cases were linked to a Nile River cruise that’s already been connected to other confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses. The fifth case was linked to domestic travel, Miller said.

The other tests were conducted on individuals believed to have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus, Miller said.

“Since 25 of these tests came back negative, this really tells us that community transmission didn’t occur in these individuals, but that doesn’t mean that community transmission isn’t occurring,” she said.

SUNDAY: Check Out Resources For More Information

Here’s a series of NPR articles that contain information that might be helpful:

SATURDAY: Moratorium On Mass Gatherings Expanded In Dane County

Saturday 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.

SATURDAY: 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.