Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the current Marathon County numbers. A news release reporting the fourth confirmed case in Marathon County was received several minutes after this story was first reported.
By Shereen Siewert
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services on Tuesday reported 1,354 cases of COVID-19, have been confirmed up from 1,221 on Monday.
Johns Hopinks University Coronavirus Resource Center is reporting 24 deaths statewide, which includes information from state and local agencies.
Marathon County is reporting four cases including one involving an employee at Mount View Care Center, a Wausau nursing home operated by North Central Health Care. During a news briefing Monday, NCHC CEO Michael Loy said
“The unfortunate truth is this virus will affect all of us in some way personally or professionally,” Loy said.
NCHC began preparing for eventual community spread of COVID-19 in early March, then moved forward with precautionary measures at the facility, Loy said. The employee who tested positive was screened on entry to the facility on March 23, but was sent home after reporting developing symptoms during the employee’s assigned shift. On March 26, the employee, who had been self-quarantined, was brought in for testing on a doctor’s recommendation due to worsening symptoms. The test came back positive on March 28, Loy said.
Several additional employees have been tested with negative results, with additional employees whose tests are pending, Loy said Monday.
See Loy’s full press briefing in the video below.
Many more cases are expected to be reported in the coming days and weeks as Wisconsin ramps up testing efforts statewide.
Andrea Palm, secretary of the state Department of Health Services, said the effects that the stay-at-home order has had on the spread of the disease won’t be seen until next week at the earliest.
“We really do believe it’s another 10-plus days before were going to see evidence of a flattening off of the new daily cases,” she said.
But amid the concern there was hope.
Dr. Ryan Westergaard, Wisconsin’s chief medical officer for communicable diseases, said the state has been seeing a slower increase in cases and that he believes lives have already been saved thanks to the stay-at-home order. The next two weeks will be critical, he said.
“It could be a lot worse,” he said. “What we’re doing is working.”
Nearly 200,000 Wisconsin workers who lost their jobs have filed for unemployment benefits since March 15. In a sign of how quickly and severely the outbreak has affected workers, Evers said that on Thursday, the Department of Workforce Development received 400,000 calls during a four-hour period, including more than 160 calls per second at one point.
Evers was working with lawmakers on an aid package to help jobless workers, state businesses, the health care industry and others most directly affected by the outbreak.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said in a statement that lawmakers and Evers were “continuing to make progress” on a bill for the Legislature to take up. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he expected an analysis soon of the $2.3 billion in federal aid coming to the state, something Republicans have said they wanted to understand before taking up a state bill.
Both Vos and Fitzgerald said the Legislature was looking at ways to safely meet, using technology to connect lawmakers remotely, in the coming weeks.
About 175,000 of the world’s 826,622 cases have been confirmed in the U.S. Coronavirus has claimed the life of more than 40,000 people globally, while 174,115 people have so far recovered, Johns Hopkins is reporting.
The Associated Press contributed to this story