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COVID hits record high in Chippewa County

COVID hits record high in Chippewa County

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Chippewa County saw 50 new COVID-19 cases in the past week, setting a new one-week high, up from the prior record of 43 last week.

While Chippewa County is among 11 counties in the state that hasn’t had a coronavirus-related death, the county now has five people hospitalized, which also is a record high for the county.

Chippewa County Public Health Director Angela Weideman spoke Wednesday at her weekly COVID-19 update meeting, encouraging the public to keep following safe practices, while acknowledging there is a lot of “COVID fatigue” from people who want to be done with the virus and are sometimes relaxed and forget to follow guidelines.

Overall, the county now has 482 positive cases, including 62 people who are actively being monitored for the disease; the other 420 people are now considered recovered.

“It’s extremely important to be diligent with physical distancing and wearing a mask,” she said.

A total of 794 COVID-19 tests were taken in the past week, including 282 performed by the National Guard, who conducted a drive-thru test at the Northern Wisconsin State Fairgrounds. However, 434 tests were performed by the National Guard at an identical drive-thru test in July.

“I was definitely disappointed to see that number go down,” Weideman said. She added that her office is working on strategies to get more people tested. She previously said her goal is to have 900 tests conducted countywide each week.

COVID-19 cases from students and staff at schools climbed from nine to 15 countywide in the past week. Weideman said there aren’t any cases of entire classes or schools having to be quarantined because of an illness.

Overall, the number of tests climbed 325 from last week, when only 469 were conducted, and just 447 two weeks ago. With the jump in tests, the county’s positivity rate fell to 6.3%, down from 9.2% last week.

While the Chippewa County Health & Human Service Board rejected an ordinance last week that would have given Weideman the authority to issue county citations on health orders written by her office, she added that Gov. Tony Evers has extended the statewide mask mandate for another 60 days, and that order allows for $200 fines.

However, her office has not issued any citations. Instead, they have worked with individuals and businesses who have not followed guidelines.

“We do provide signage to businesses to encourage (mask use),” she said.

While the county ordinance failed, Weideman stressed the measure would have only given her the ability to fine people. Some of the public who spoke last week questioned whether the ordinance would allow her office to remove children from their homes, force vaccinations, or lead to incarcerations. Weideman said none of those feared actions were allowed by the ordinance.

Weideman noted that the number of COVID-19 cases have jumped around the state, particularly in cities that have a university. She reiterated that in Wisconsin, coronavirus is 10 times more deadly than influenza.

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