JEFFERSON — Health officials are urging residents to wear a mask, social distance and wash their hands as Wisconsin hit its highest one-day total of positive COVID-19 cases Saturday with 926.
After a spike in cases in Jefferson County over last weekend, cases here climbed to 315 with 7,640 negative cases on Friday and 360 with 8,077 cases on Sunday.
While positive cases continue to climb, more 7,617 more people tested as of Sunday than the prior day.
The state Department of Health Services reported 926 new confirmed cases on Saturday, breaking the new high of 850 Friday and 754 new positives Thursday. Of the roughly 36,448 people who have tested positive, 79 percent have recovered and 2 percent have died. There have been 821 deaths.
There were more than 300 people hospitalized statewide due to the virus, down from a peak of 446 in April. The number of people hospitalized also has been slowly increasing.
“Masking in our communities has been hit and miss. Setting the example by wearing a mask is critical. Even when walking into a restaurant, a mask is extremely helpful until you are seated,” said Marie Wiesmann, vice president of nursing services at Fort HealthCare.
“Definitely wear a mask whenever you are out and about in public, “she added. “Masks are respectful of others, courteous to those that have co-morbid conditions and are at higher risk to disease and compassionate.”
Face coverings or masks are recommended as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when you talk, cough, sneeze or raise your voice, Wiesmann said.
“It is the one simple thing everyone can do to help prevent the spread of this virus. There are many universities that have studied the use of masks and found that they are exceptionally effective in preventing the spread of this virus. The University of Wisconsin System has mandated masking for all students returning to school this fall and health-care organizations across the country require masking upon entry for the same reasons,” she said.
Last weekend, Gail Scott, director of the Jefferson County Health Department, confirmed that 18 new cases of the virus and 23 overall for the weekend was the highest total since the pandemic began in March.
In neighboring Dane County, an indoor facemask mandate was ordered to start at 8 a.m. Monday for all businesses. The order, from Public Health Madison and Dane County, requires everyone age 5 and older to wear a face covering in any building where other people would be present. The exception is a person’s household or living unit.
The order applies to businesses, health-care settings, public transportation and going to someone else’s home.
Eating in a restaurant would be exempt from the order, but social distancing still would apply.
Jefferson County currently has no mandate for wearing masks. However, doing so is strongly recommended.
The American Hospital, American Medical and American Nurses Association on Friday issued a public letter reminding residents to wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash your hands.
It noted that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organizations have urged Americans to protect themselves, their neighbors and their loved ones “amid the worst global health crisis in generations.”
In the first months, infections and deaths began to decline, the letter states.
“But in the weeks since states began reopening, some of the steps that were critical to the progress we made were too quickly abandoned. And we are now watching in real-time as a dramatic uptick in COVID-19 cases is erasing our hard-won gains,” according to the joint letter. “Hospitals in some states are at or nearing their ICU capacity. Shortages of personal protective equipment and testing supplies continue to pose a dire threat to health care workers and patients alike. And last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci told Congress that the U.S could see 100,000 new coronavirus cases each day if we do not take more precautions.”
The letter states that physicians, nurses, hospital and health system leaders, researchers and public health experts are urging the American public to take the simple steps we know will help stop the spread of the virus: wearing a face mask, maintaining physical distancing, and washing hands.
“We are not powerless in this public health crisis, and we can defeat it in the same way we defeated previous threats to public health — by allowing science and evidence to shape our decisions and inform our actions,” the letter states.
“The toll of this pandemic is already staggering, and it will take many more months, perhaps years, to truly understand its impact on our country and our way of life. But what is certain — and what the science and evidence are telling us – is that COVID-19 is not behind us and we must resist confusing re-opening with returning to normalcy,” the letter states.
“To those of you who are doing your part in helping turn the tide of this pandemic – thank you. Your actions are critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19. Moving forward, we must all remain vigilant and continue taking steps to mitigate the spread of the virus to protect each other and our loved ones. There is only one way we will get through this – together.”
More than 34,000 COVID cases in the state have been reported so far during the pandemic, according to the Wisconsin Department of health services.
Wiesmann said the mission of Fort Healthcare is to “improve the health and well-being of our communities” and the vision is to be the “Healthiest community in Wisconsin.”
“I would like to see everyone promoting “Mask UP Jefferson County!” she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.