A member of the Wisconsin National Guard conducts a COVID-19 nasal swab test of a passenger in a car at a testing site set up at Burlington High School Tuesday. The site provided two days of free testing for anyone living or working in the area. (Photo by Ed Nadolski)

Face coverings, physical distancing still strongly encouraged

By Jason Arndt

Staff Writer

The Central Racine County Health Department eased some recommendations related to COVID-19 as its service area continues to experience newly confirmed cases of the disease.

The recommendations, according to a June 29 announcement, cover multiple sectors from individuals to businesses as well as recreational activities and mass gatherings.

Despite the less-stringent recommendations, Health Officer Margaret Gesner advised residents to follow basic mitigation practices such as physical distancing and most notably wearing masks or face coverings while in public.

“The coronavirus pandemic has not gone away,” Gesner said in a news release. “We need the entire community to remain vigilant so that our case rate does not increase.”

The goal, Gesner said, includes keeping hospital capacity as well as people in high-risk groups in mind as residents leave their homes.

“If our COVID-19 cases surge, our hospitals may be overwhelmed, and we may experience an increase in preventable deaths. These are all unacceptable outcomes for our community. We must protect the most vulnerable among us.”

Racine County officials pointed to other states that opened too quickly and have started experiencing spikes in newly confirmed cases.

With spikes in Florida, Texas and Arizona, people should consider mitigation measures, according to the June 29 announcement.

Those measures include wearing a non medical face covering, implementing school and worksite screening for COVID-19 symptoms, incorporating physical barriers where possible, maintaining physical distancing guidance, routine cleaning and disinfecting, posting signs encouraging adherence to recommendations along with frequent hand washing.


Associated risk

Officials based their recommendations on overall community transmission and associated risk to community members.

The transmission and associated rates were determined as the state Department of Health Services launched a new data dashboard showing COVID-19 activity level by county and region.

The data dashboard classifies each county and region as high, moderate or low risk using overall burden of cases within each area and percent change of cases in the last two weeks.

The CRCHD service area, according to officials, is categorized as a moderate risk.

“At a moderate risk level, the community should be prepared for additional cases which means that most businesses should not be operating at 100%, with few exceptions,” the CRCHD said.

Residents, meanwhile, are advised to avoid areas considered a high risk because of transmission rates.

To read the entire story, including information on the specific recommendations, see this week’s editions of the Burlington Standard Press, Waterford Post and Westine Report.