JEFFERSON — Two more people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Jefferson County, but there is no evidence of community spread at this time, a county health official said Tuesday.

The first case of COVID-19 was confirmed last Friday in the county and the second one, on Sunday. Since then, the total has climbed to four.

Gail Scott, director of the Jefferson County Health Department, confirmed the additional cases Tuesday noon.

“This brings the total to four cases,” Scott said of Jefferson County. “There is no evidence of community spread at this time.”

The first two cases involved people who had traveled domestically. There was no information as of presstime regarding the newest cases’ circumstances.

Meanwhile, Dodge County Public Health Officer Abby Sauer said her county added its one COVID-19 case over the past 24 hours. As in Scott’s cases, Sauer declined to say where that case was.

“Our website will be updated each day and we will also post updates onto Facebook,” Sauer said. “We now have a total of three cases in Dodge County. We had two as of yesterday.”

Sauer said she is doing her best in her leadership role to manage staff working hours, to keep burnout to a minimum. Scott said the same thing.

“We are managing our staff members who are working over the weekends. So I make sure the staff get time during the week to spend time with family and to rest. This is a public health emergency, so we are rotating people,” Sauer said.

Scott said her office also has a staffing plan for the weekends.

“Our staff members are are so dedicated that they still voluntarily work to make sure they are keeping up-to-date,” Scott said. “It has been lots of long hours and a lot of calls and communication with the public and all our partners. We have virtual meetings with our partners, calls with our local hospital, and, twice a day, a meeting with staff.

“We are recommending breaks, that people don’t forget to eat, take a walk and try to do something positive with family,” she added. “We also remind people to reach out to those who live alone, are isolated, or have anxiety and depression issues to make sure they have the support they need.”

The announcement of the new area cases came on the same day that Gov. Tony Evers issued a sweeping order closing nonessential businesses throughout the state, banning gatherings of any size and imposing month-long travel restrictions in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Evers’ order has numerous exceptions, but was designed to severely curtail movement around the state and force people to stay at home.

Evers said he didn’t want to have to issue such an order, but “folks need to start taking this seriously.” The goal of the order, which is similar to orders issued in many other states, is to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic so that doctors and nurses won’t get overwhelmed with patients.

It will be up to local law enforcement to make sure people are obeying the new restrictions, which take effect at 8 a.m. Wednesday and are set to run through April 24, though the timeline could be altered.

Evers ordered Wisconsin residents to stay at home, with exceptions for essential work, activities and limited travel. He said people could still go outside to walk and ride bikes, but he ordered all playgrounds closed and he barred team sports such as basketball and football.

All public and private gatherings of any number of people who are not in the same family or living unit are prohibited. Evers previously limited gatherings to no more than 10 people.

Anyone who leaves home is required to maintain a 6-foot distance from other people as part of the social distancing effort that health officials say is the only effective way to slow the spread of the virus.

Businesses allowed to remain open include hospitals and other health care facilities; grocery stores; bars and restaurants offering delivery and carry-out food; child care facilities; post offices; airports and other businesses offering essential services; pharmacies; gas stations; banks and other financial institutions; laundries and dry cleaners; hardware stores; churches and paces of worship; funeral homes and media outlets.

Critical construction work, including plumbers, electricians, carpenters and janitors, also were exempted. Professional services, including lawyers, accountants and insurance agents, were exempted but encouraged to work from home.

The governor classified the media as essential services. The Daily Jefferson County Union is publishing. Its office is closed to the public, but the print edition is being mailed daily and the website at www.dailyunion.com is being updated frequently.

Evers previously ordered K-12 public and private schools to close. The order now mandates that all places of public amusement and activity close, including swimming pools, water parks, aquariums, arcades, museums, zoos, children’s play centers, bowling alleys, movie theaters, concert venues, country clubs, social clubs, gyms and fitness centers.

The order came amid growing criticism from Republicans.

The partisan divide could become more important later, as the emergency health order Evers issued on March 12 is only valid for 60 days. For it to continue beyond May 11, the Republican-controlled Legislature would have to extend it. The Legislature also has the power to revoke an emergency declaration, which could undo many of the closings and steps being taken to combat the virus, which has killed five people in the state and infected more than 400.

“Every business in Wisconsin that provides an individual and/or family an income is essential,” Republican state Sen. Chris Kapenga, of Delafield, tweeted Tuesday ahead of the order being issued.

Republican concerns in Wisconsin come as President Donald Trump began to publicly question whether the economic cost was worth it. Wisconsin Republicans are also now pushing for more involvement in the decisions that Evers has been making under authority given to governors through the health emergency declaration he issued this month.

The Legislature, not the governor, should be the one to issue an order like the one Evers issued, said Republican Sen. David Craig, of Big Bend. He is one of the most conservative members of the Legislature.

Rick Esenberg, president of the conservative law firm the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, wrote last week about the powers the governor has in times of crisis. Esenberg and the institute have sued Evers and Democrats over numerous issues and are a leading conservative voice in the state.

Whether Evers’ orders are narrow enough to withstand legal scrutiny is an open question, Esenberg wrote.

“These issues may become more important as the crisis goes on,” he wrote. “But it is unlikely that a court would second-guess a Governor now, given the degree of uncertainty and fear that has gripped the nation.”

{p style=”font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-variant-ligatures: normal; orphans: 2; widows: 2;”}Meanwhile, Evers said the public should follow simple steps to prevent illness and avoid exposure to the COVID-19 virus, including avoiding social gatherings with people of all ages, including playdates and sleepovers, parties, large family dinners, visitors in the home, non-essential workers in the house. The state also said people should engage in frequent and thorough hand-washing with soap and water, cover coughs and sneezes, avoid touching the face and simply stay home.

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