JUNEAU — For the third straight week, the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests in Dodge County was above 20%, according to the latest update from the Dodge County Health Department.

From Oct. 12 to 18, county health officials reported 20.8% of all tests administered were positive; the previous week it was 32.8%. The daily percentage of positive tests has been increasing for over two months and is currently at 10.4%. That rate is double of what county health officials reported is the ideal goal of 5% along with a downward trajectory of cases.

“This last week was another record week where we had hit our highest confirmed positive cases in Dodge County. We’re not alone,” Dodge County Public Health Officer Abby Sauer said Tuesday night. “A lot of counties across the state are in the same boat with us.”

Out of 2,151 total tests Oct. 12 to 18, there were 1,702 negative cases, but there were 419 positive tests and 30 more positive cases from the Department of Corrections, too, Sauer said.

Since the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, Dodge County Health Officer Abby Sauer said her department hired nine limited part-time employees with the possibility of hiring another three to help with contact tracing.

“We have been focusing on increasing our testing capacity to keep up with the demand from the public,” Sauer said. “We do get a lot of requests for testing.”

Sauer admitted contact tracing has become increasingly difficult with the increase caseload. She said the Dodge County Public Health Department is getting behind on reaching “positives” within their 24 hour goal of those individuals’ test results coming in. Sauer said she’s confident the additional employees will help the health department meet their positive cases within 24 hours rather than connecting with those individuals three to five days after their have received their results.

She reported at September’s board meeting there were 10 COVID-19-related deaths. This month, the number is up 12. She said the age group that tested the most for COVID-19 were 50-59 year olds.

“We are continuing to push education in our community and striving to get everyone to wear a mask, social distance, properly wash their hands and stay home if they’re sick,” Sauer said.

She said there is an ongoing test site at the Dodge County highway shop in Mayville run in partnership with county’s public health department, Dodge County emergency management, and the Wisconsin National Guard. The test site is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays. It will run through the beginning of December, but no date has been scheduled for its closure.

“We are also looking at providing a testing site in Beaver Dam, but nothing has been set,” Sauer said.

Dodge County remains in phase one of its three phase Safe Restart Plan. Contact tracing and cases are in the red while hospitals remain in the yellow. Personal protective equipment and testing are the only metrics in the green. Recommendations under phase one of the plan include limiting capacity in non-essential businesses, bars, restaurants and organizations to 25% while private, indoor social gatherings should be limited to 10 people or less while maintaining physical distancing and wearing a mask.

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