Dunn County has its first confirmed positive case of COVID-19 in nearly three weeks.
Dunn County Health Department Director KT Gallagher said in a weekly briefing and question-answer session held on the Dunn County Facebook page Friday, the department was notified that morning of a new case, increasing the county's count to 10. That number isn't reflected in the state data from Friday because of its earlier cutoff for daily data collection.
Gallagher also said each of the nine other positive cases have been deemed recovered and released from isolation. To be considered recovered, she said, a number of factors are considered such as it having been 30 days since the individual tested positive or documentation that the person is symptom free.
While all but one individual to have tested positive in the county are active cases, Gallagher said, one person remains hospitalized. That individual had been retested and it came back negative, but those who face severe symptoms can have their health continued to be impacted even after the virus has been cleared from their system.
To gather statewide numbers on the number of cases still active and suffering from symptoms is challenging with total positive cases totaling more than 7,000 from throughout the state. Gallagher said about half of people that have tested positive in the state are meeting one of the criteria to be considered recovered.
Locally, because the health department follows up on each case, Gallagher said, they can be confident in the accuracy of recovered cases.
Part of Gov. Tony Evers' Badger Bounce Back Plan to reopen the economy is a significant increase in testing capabilities.
As of Friday, Dunn County has conducted about 1,000 tests total and, Gallagher said, to reach the statewide goal locally Dunn County would need to be doing more than 600 tests a week. On average, about 25 tests are being done daily.
Another important piece is increasing contact tracing capabilities. Gallagher said she's looking to bring in about seven full-time equivalent tracers by adding to the staff individuals with public health backgrounds, or those with investigation or social work experience. The state also has contact tracers available should the county need more support.
"Hopefully with that number (of tests) we can quickly identify who is positive, isolate them so they’re not sharing their germs with other people," Gallagher said, "and then do the contact tracing so that we know who all the people that they’ve been in close contact with, and then do the same work with them as well."
National Guard to provide testing
Gallagher announced the National Guard would be conducting free mass drive-thru test collection during the next few weeks in the region. The tests will be done by swabbing in the nose rather than the back of the mouth.
Testing began in Buffalo and Pepin counties on Friday. Dunn County has partnered with Eau Claire County to provide a site for the National Guard to test.
On Sunday, May 10 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m and Monday, May 11 from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. at CVTC/Prevea Health, 617 W. Clairemont Avenue, in Eau Claire, testing will be available for those experiencing mild symptoms. More information will be released soon.
"Hopefully we’ll have a bigger snapshot of what kind of community prevalence we have here," Gallagher said of the testing.
Gallagher also said because routines have been impacted and usual coping mechanisms may not be available, it's important to take care of one's mental health.
Eating good food, getting good sleep and good exercise might not be enough.
Now is also an important time to check on and connect with your neighbors and friends to see how they are doing. The Department of Health Services provides online resources at Resilient Wisconsin for healthy coping and recognizing stress and anxiety.
If you or someone you know isn't doing OK, Gallagher said, you can text HOPELINE to 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. General questions about COVID-19 can also be answered by calling 211.
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