Watertown Alderman Eric Schmid told his fellow common council members Tuesday he’s content with the spike in the city’s COVID-19 cases.
“I’m actually glad about the numbers and that may sound counterintuitive to a lot of people,” he said, “but the reality is all the research points to the sooner we hit that threshold of 30% to 50% — the sooner we get to herd immunity. That’s what all the studies being replicated domestically and internationally are showing.”
Schmid’s comments came on the heels of Watertown Mayor Emily McFarland’s update on COVID-19 and its affect on the community.
“What is being revealed now is the information we didn’t have in the spring, and that is the collateral casualty rate in some places is five times or greater than what the COVID-19 death rate is because people are pushing off standard testing for cancer or screenings and procedures or those kinds of things that could prolong their lives,” Schmid said. “The concern is how do we get to herd immunity faster and in a safer manner — the better we will be sooner so that’s a good thing and that’s what researchers are looking for and that’s to get the numbers to more reasonable ones.”
The number of coronavirus cases are rising, according to McFarland’s report.
There have been more than 10,000 total investigations with 7,191 of them are negative and 1,511 of them were confirmed as positive for COVID-19. McFarland said the city has a 4% hospitalization rate, too. She said there are 246 open contacts, 315 active and 18 probable cases with 378 suspect cases within the city.
McFarland said 1,196 of the individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 recovered.
“The seven-day rolling average is just under 40 new positive cases a day,” McFarland said. “We continue to see growth (in COVID-19 cases) in the 10-19, 20-29 and 50-59 age groups.
McFarland said she has taken a high of volume of calls from residents asking if the city is rolling back to Phase Zero. She said Watertown will remain in Phase One.
She said Governor Tony Evers extended the time period for CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act) funding applications to be submitted.
“He also greatly opened the scope of what can be claimed in certain areas,” McFarland said. “We were allocated just under $390,000. We claimed around $4 million.”
McFarland said the CARES Act funding allowed the city to claim some police, fire and health department wages that are normally not covered under other grants.
“We were directed by the governor’s staff to submit everything that could be reimbursed,” she said.
McFarland also spoke on the impetus of closing city offices to the public.
“It came down to our staffing,” she said. “We had a couple of departments hovering in the 50% staffing range. We could not do that with the departments. We brought back a handful of people, which brought one department back to the 80% range in staffing.”
She said there is currently a city firefighter, who is on light duty, working full time at the health department.
“We’ve been having a lot of testing (in the city),” McFarland said. “Once you are tested — stay home. That puts us in a position where we are minimally staffed in certain areas so the decision to close city offices was right in front of me.”
She said there a may be a policy coming forward to help city officials understand what conditions a person, who should be on quarantine, can return to work.