JUNEAU — Residents want the Dodge County Board of Supervisors to do more when it comes to COVID-19.
On Tuesday, supervisor Lisa Derr expressed her frustration and said the county needs to take the lead in protecting its residents from the dangers associated with COVID-19.
Derr’s comments followed a brief pandemic update by Dodge County Public Health Officer Abby Sauer.
Derr told fellow board members Tuesday that they need to act now. She said 50 individuals contacted her regarding some residents’ disregard for the safety of themselves or others.
“People are concerned that you are pursuing completely unenforceable guidelines as opposed to an order,” Derr said. “Numerous people have said they’ve driven by businesses, were inside businesses and saw things on social media.
“People are frustrated because they are being chastised by others, and even businesses, because they are following the county’s guidelines like social distancing and wearing masks,” she said. “One person has stopped patronizing a local grocery store for not having any protections for its workers.”
Derr said several residents commented positively that several chain businesses have been able to do what the county has not like requiring plastic dividers, social distancing and face masks.
Sauer said since the Safer-at-Home order was struck down May 13, her office has been receiving a lot of calls from citizens.
“With the approval of many in county government we decided that the first step was putting out guidance and recommendations to the public versus putting out public health orders,” Sauer said.
A press release was issued and a list of actions was offered on the county’s web site. The two stated that Dodge County Public Health is asking residents to voluntarily follow guidelines such as maintaining a 6-foot distance from others, avoiding mass gatherings and wearing a mask in public when distancing from one another is difficult. She said businesses were asked to increase their cleaning methods and monitor their employees’ health, in accordance with Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. advisories.
She said the county’s statistics of COVID-19 will soon be shared on the county website. They will include numbers, trends and other information about the virus.
Sauer said her department is working diligently to trace the exposure of those who have tested positive, and how those contacts have effected the spread of COVID-19.
“Our goal is that every positive COVID resident gets interviewed within 24 hours of us being notified of that test, and that every COVID positive contact gets interviewed within 48 hours,” Sauer said. “As of now we’re meeting those goals with our staff and support from the Human Services and Health Department as a whole. More staff will provide help if we need it.”
At the time of Sauer’s report Tuesday, there were 109 positive cases. A total of 42 are active cases that are being monitored in isolation. A total of 14 percent of the total cases have been hospitalized at one point, although that ranges from an overnight stay to more serious treatment. The 66 that have recovered (60 percent of the total cases) are out of isolation and have returned to doing their regular activities.
One person has died. A total of 2,079 people have tested negative.
“We have had a bump in the number, although it is due in part to the fact that we’re testing more,” Sauer said. “We were anticipating that would happen.”
Outbreaks (of one or more people) in care facilities have been monitored through mass testing.
Board supervisor Donna Maly asked if more widespread testing will be happening in the county. Sauer said there are no current plans to do so in Dodge County, but that could change.
According to Sauer, local Public Health offices have legal authority to enact powers to “prevent, suppress and control” communicable diseases. Those powers include banning public gatherings.
“If we are seeing that the numbers are not going the right way, that we’re seeing negative outcomes, we may look at revisiting closure orders,” she said.
Sauer said such action is limited to a Public Health ordinance, which Dodge County does not have.
However, Sauer said an ordinance will be discussed at a Human Services and Health Board meeting May 27. It could come before the county board at its June 16 meeting.