Dunn County is focused on preventing continued spread of COVID-19.
The county health department has been working with community partners, industry and health care facilities to make sure preparation has occurred and guidelines are in place to keep the community safe. The focus has been on prevention and monitoring, Dunn County Health Department Director KT Gallagher said.
“Really what we’re trying to do is to get people to stay home,” Gallagher said. “People are safer at home, we’re trying to close the circle on how many people are exposing other people germs that they might not know that they have.”
As of Monday there had been 158 tests conducted of county residents with three of them coming back as positive. The first test was confirmed on March 19 and Gallagher said the individual has recovered. An individual was also confirmed as positive on March 26 with the third occurring over the weekend. The latest two cases were connected to each other and were transmitted by close contact.
Individuals in Dunn County are being tested either because having traveled to locations known to have wide spread community spread or having been in close contact with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. Those with respiratory symptoms and other risk factors are also being tested, Gallagher said.
Many of the individuals having been tested were exposed to the virus between 10-14 days ago, Gallagher said, before Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home Order.
“We’re not necessarily seeing the fruits of that staying at home just yet,” she said.
While being isolated to one’s home, a level of anxiety can develop as people no longer are able to enjoy activities or groups of people that help them cope. The state department of health services has provides some tips to stay resilient during the pandemic. The DHS recommends staying connected to your friends and family through technology, spending time away constant COVID-19 information and reducing your anxiety level by reducing your risk by staying home. A complete list tips for individuals can be found by visiting the DHS website. (dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/resilient.htm)
“Those coping mechanisms, and changing those coping mechanisms in a time of great upheaval is difficult,” Gallagher said, “so the anxiety and uneasiness is normal and it’s not an indication of somebody being weak willed or somehow less.”
Local health care facilities have implemented assessment tools and mobile testing clinics in response to the virus. Marshfield Clinic, Prevea Health and Mayo Clinic all have established online assessments for those suffering from symptoms of the virus. Mayo Clinic in Menomonie is also offering pre-screened patients drive-thru testing on site while others have sites in the region.
Those experiencing symptoms are asked to contact their local health care providers for assessment prior to visiting any testing site. Those that meet certain criteria following assessments will be given instructions for testing by their providers.
Individuals searching for information can also call 2-1-1 with general questions, visit the website of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19), Centers for Disease Control (cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/) and the Dunn County Health Department (co.dunn.wi.us/publichealth).
The health department has been working with industries in the county to make sure they have been screening individuals prior to going to work to ask them to stay home if they’ve traveled or have been in close contact with someone with symptoms of the virus. Industrial plants deemed essential have been taking extra precautions. Those measures include cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces, staggering break times and maintaining social distancing.
“Our plants here in Menomonie and in Dunn County at large have been really responsive,” Gallagher said. “We have worked together on different case contact investigations and we’ve honestly been working for the last 4-6 weeks, depending on the plant, on really what they’re going to put in place to minimize that spread and to keep their people safe.”
Gallagher noted many complaints have also been reported and those are being investigated. She said the first stop with a concern should be to the human resources department as employee safety should be their top concern. Individuals should also not be afraid to speak with health and safety management about ideas to prevent people from getting sick.
Gallagher will be doing weekly update videos on the Dunn County Facebook page (Facebook.com/dunncountywi) each Friday and community members can ask questions by responding to post. Personal medical information is private and can’t be shared in questions or responses.
The most important thing is to stay home, Gallagher said, although it doesn’t yet appear the measures have made a difference, staying home will keep the community safer.
“I will get you information on what I know, when I know it,” Gallagher said to the community, “so that you can rest assured that the Dunn County Health Department is being transparent and providing as much information as we’re able to keep you informed so that you can make safe, informed decisions about you and your families health.”
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