Door, Manitowoc County Public Health Departments strained by growing coronavirus cases

Published: Sep. 29, 2020 at 11:03 AM CDT
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STURGEON BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Door County and Manitowoc County Public Health Departments say new cases of coronavirus in the areas are adding up so quickly, it’s exceeding their ability to complete COVID-19 tests or contact the people who test positive in a timely manner.

A statement from Door County Public Health says testing is now taking 5-7 days. The goal is to contact people who test positive within 24 hours of getting their test results but “due to the current surge in cases we are days behind this goal.”

The health department is no longer calling people who have been in close contact with an infected person. Instead, it’s asking people who test positive to notify close contacts themselves and advise them to quarantine until the 14th day from their last contact with you.

In Manitowoc County, health officials say they’re adjusting how contact tracing is being done.

Previously, tracers would notify not only those who test positive, but also all of their direct contacts, which would often result in dozens of phone calls for each positive case, according to the department.

Now, tracers will continue to notify those who test positive and advise them to isolate, and will also notify those who live with a positive case in the same household unit to quarantine.

However, anyone who tests positive will be asked by the health department to reach out to their direct contacts on their own to advise them to quarantine.

A close contact is someone who was within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from two days before symptoms appeared.

A person should also be contacted if they touched an infected person (such as a hug or a handshake) for any length of time within the two days before symptoms showed.

Manitowoc County health officials say schools and some businesses are also doing their own contact tracing, so you may be contacted by a company human resources department, or a school.

Stay home if you feel sick. Stay home as much as possible. Avoid unnecessary travel. Outside of the home, wear a face covering and keep a 6 foot distance from people who aren’t from your household. Stay away from gatherings.

People who get tested for the coronavirus should notify their employer, isolate themselves for 10 days from first experiencing symptoms (if you had symptoms) or 10 days after your test (if you felt no symptoms), and notify close contacts themselves and advise them to quarantine until the 14th days from their last contact with you.

Health officials say many cases are the result of gatherings, including work and school, parties, weddings and reunions. The county is asking everyone to do their part to help slow the spread of the virus for which people have no known immunity.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, as of Tuesday afternoon, Door County has had 354 cases, compared to 245 cases a week ago and 134 cases on September 1. The DHS says Manitowoc County has had 1,170 cases as of Tuesday afternoon, compared to 905 cases a week ago and 535 on September 1.

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