JEFFERSON — Jefferson County has issued a health alert as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise rapidly.

Jefferson County Health Department Director Gail Scott announced the health alert Saturday, saying that the county is “experiencing significant and uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

“We have seen a rapid increase in the number of daily new cases in past weeks, and the number of cases continues to accelerate upward,” Scott said. “Our capacity for testing, case investigation, and contact tracing to effectively identify and control the spread of the virus has become increasingly strained.”

Since mid-March, the county has recorded 1,651 positive cases of the coronavirus, with 77 probable cases and eight deaths. Wisconsin’s total of positive cases was 132,663, with 7,265 probable cases and a death toll of 1,377.

The seven-day rolling average ending Sept. 30 is 39 new cases daily per 100,000 residents. A number of 25 cases or more is considered “high risk.”

The 14-day rolling average, from Sept. 17-30, was 35 new cases per 100,000 residents per day. Altogether, that accounted to 484 new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people in those two weeks.

In addition, Fort Atkinson and Watertown are among a dozen cities in Wisconsin that the White House Coronavirus Task Force named in a weekly report as having the most cases per 100,000 residents (see related story on A1).

As of Sunday, Fort Atkinson had logged 372 cases of COVID-19, followed by Jefferson at 214. Lake Mills had 104.

Scott said that the goal remains to contact all confirmed cases of COVID-19 within 24 hours of being reported to the health department, but due to the current surge in cases and the department’s capacity, it is not able to consistently meet this objective.

“At this time, we will no longer be calling those individuals who are close contacts of a positive case,” Scott said. “We will now ask positively confirmed individuals to notify their close contacts of their exposure to COVID-19.”

The health officer said that officials are seeking help from the community as a whole.

She noted that currently, COVID-19 test results are taking up to five to seven days to complete.

“To keep our community safe, we ask you to remain isolated while awaiting your test results,” Scott said. “You will be notified of all results, positive or negative, by your healthcare provider or testing facility.”

People who have tested positive need to do the following:

• Stay home and isolate for a minimum of 10 days after symptom onset. If you did not have symptoms and were tested, remain isolated for 10 days from the date of testing.

• Notify your employer.

• Notify your close contacts, asking them to quarantine for 14 days from the last day of contact with you.

“The Public Health Guidelines we know to be effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19 remain unchanged,” Scott said. “We are urging the community to follow these guidelines to reduce the further spread of COVID-19 in our community.”

• Stay home, wear a face covering, and maintain physical distance from others (at least 6 feet). Stay at home as much as possible and especially if you are sick. Cancel events and avoid groups, gatherings, play dates and nonessential appointments.

• Avoid unnecessary activities and travel within the community that puts you in contact with others and stay away from group gatherings.

“Cases are resulting from a variety of situations in which people move about the community and gather, including parties, reunions, weddings, places of work and school,” Scott said.

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