Wisconsin reports largest one-day jump in COVID-19 cases; 147 cases linked to JBS plant in Green Bay

Published: Apr. 22, 2020 at 12:15 PM CDT
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  • Wisconsin has 4,845 positive cases and 246 deaths
  • The state received 500 more test results than any other day this week
  • Brown County added 93 cases in 24 hours
  • Half of Brown County's 410 cases are directly or indirectly linked to three meat processing plants

Wisconsin health officials reported 225 more positive tests, the largest one-day increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases so far.

The state now has 4,845 COVID-19 patients and 246 deaths, 4 more deaths than reported Tuesday. Almost 50,000 people who were tested were negative.

The higher number of positive tests coincided with more tests being processed. The state received 1,886 test results in 24 hours, compared to about 1,300 to 1,500 tests each day this week. Almost 12% of tests that came back in the past day were positive, compared to 9% of tests the day before.

A county-by-county breakdown and more demographic information appear below.

Brown County outbreak

Brown County Public Health reported 93 new positive tests in the past 24 hours, while Oneida Nation reported 1 new case, bringing the county total to 416 patients.

Brown County Public Health says 147 of the COVID-19 cases have been linked to an outbreak at the JBS beef facility in Green Bay.

It's the first time we've received numbers showing the scope of the outbreak at the meatpacking facility located on Lime Kiln Road. The county had previously described it as a "cluster" of cases.

The cases are both in employees and people who have had contact with employees.

All 147 cases were confirmed before on-site employee testing started this week. The federal government responded to Green Bay to help with testing and contact tracing related to the JBS outbreak.

The health department was not able to provide a number of hospitalizations linked to this particular outbreak.

JBS has closed plants in Worthington, Minnesota and Greeley, Colorado after outbreaks there. The Green Bay facility remains open. Brown County Public Health says the USDA and OSHA will make a determination if the plant should close.

Public Health Strategist Claire Paprocki said Brown County's overall positive cases jumped to 410 Wednesday. That's 93 more than Tuesday's total.

Paprocki says the county has linked 39 positive cases to American Foods Group in Green Bay.

Nineteen cases have been linked to sausage maker Salm Partners in Denmark.

More than half of the cases in Brown County are now linked to food plants.

Public Health has been partnering with the food plants on protective barriers, staggering lunch breaks and increasing on-site inspection.

JBS Raises

On April 20, JBS workers started receiving an extra $4/hour, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. That includes the 1,000 employees at the JBS plant in Green Bay.

The union said all JBS workers will have access to masks, gloves and face shields. The company was installing plexiglass shields in areas "where social distancing is not possible."

The pay raise and enhanced protections are scheduled to last through May 30. That agreement was made between the union and JBS.

Brown County Health

Brown County now has more cases than any other county except Milwaukee. It surpassed Dane County, which has twice Brown County's population. For comparison, Milwaukee added 70 new cases Tuesday to Green Bay's 93, though that could be a sign of more aggressive testing for the coronavirus during Brown County's outbreak.

Paprocki released some information about the second person to die of COVID-19 related illness in the county. The patient was a 56-year-old woman who lived in the 54311 ZIP Code. That's eastern Green Bay/Bellevue. The woman's name was not released. It is not clear if she worked at any of the local facilities where there have been outbreaks.

Brown County Public Health is stressing the importance of social distancing. "Stay home. Don't go to church. Only leave for essential services. Don't go to your neighbor's bonfire," says Paprocki.

Paprocki says 34 people who contracted the virus are out of isolation. That's up by four from Tuesday.

Cases county by county

Counties with additional cases and/or deaths are indicated in bold text


Adams - 4 cases (1 death)

Ashland - 2 cases

Barron - 6 cases

Bayfield - 3 cases (1 death)

Brown - 402 cases

(2 deaths)

Buffalo - 4 cases (1 death)

Burnett - 0 cases

Calumet - 6 cases

Chippewa - 20 cases

Clark - 18 cases

(1 death)

Columbia - 27 cases (1 death)

Crawford - 3 cases

Dane - 386 cases (19 deaths)

Dodge - 20 cases

(1 death)

Door - 9 cases (1 death)

Douglas - 8 cases

Dunn - 9 cases

Eau Claire - 23 cases

Florence - 2 cases

Fond du Lac - 65 cases (3 deaths)

Forest - 0 cases

Grant - 25 cases

(3 deaths)

Green - 9 cases

Green Lake - 1 case

Iowa - 7 cases

Iron - 2 cases (1 death)

Jackson - 12 cases (1 death)

Jefferson - 35 cases
Juneau - 11 cases

(1 death)

Kenosha - 278 cases

(6 deaths)

Kewaunee - 8 cases (1 death)

La Crosse - 25 cases

Lafayette - 4 cases

Langlade - 0 cases

Lincoln - 0 cases

Manitowoc - 7 cases

Marathon - 17 cases (1 death)

Marinette - 6 cases (1 death)

Marquette - 3 cases (1 death)

Menominee - 1 case

Milwaukee - 2,304 cases (142 deaths)

Monroe - 13 cases

Oconto - 5 cases

Oneida - 6 cases

Outagamie - 37 cases

(2 deaths)

Ozaukee - 80 cases (9 deaths)

Pepin - 0 cases

Pierce - 8 cases

Polk - 4 cases

Portage - 4 cases

Price - 1 case

Racine - 198 cases

(10 deaths)

Richland - 9 cases

(1 death)

Rock - 86 cases

(4 deaths)

Rusk - 4 cases

Sauk - 36 cases

(3 deaths)

Sawyer - 2 cases

Shawano - 6 cases

Sheboygan - 44 cases

(2 deaths)

St. Croix - 12 cases

Taylor - 0 cases

Trempealeau - 1 case

Vernon - 0 cases

Vilas - 4 cases

Walworth - 94 cases

(7 deaths)

Washburn - 1 case

Washington - 88 cases (4 deaths)
Waukesha - 278 cases

(13 deaths)

Waupaca - 5 cases

(1 death)

Waushara - 2 cases

Winnebago - 43 cases

(1 death)

Wood - 2 cases

Michigan's Upper Peninsula

Alger - 0 cases

Baraga - 0 cases

Chippewa - 1 case

Delta - 12 cases (2 deaths)

Dickinson - 3 cases (2 deaths)

Gogebic - 4 cases (1 death)

Houghton - 2 cases

Iron - 0 cases

Keweenaw - 0 cases

Luce - 1 cases

Mackinac - 5 cases

Marquette - 35 cases (6 deaths)

Menominee - 1 cases

Ontonagon - 0 cases

Schoolcraft - 3 cases

Officials with the City of Appleton say they have confirmed their 14th case of COVID-19.

City officials announced two new cases Thursday morning.

They say there are currently seven people in isolation, and six who have had COVID-19 have been released.

City officials say one person has passed away from the virus.


Currently there are 355 patients hospitalized for COVID-19, including 139 in intensive care. That's a slight increase in the percentage of patients in ICU. Another 229 hospitalized patients are awaiting test results.

At least 1,302 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized during their treatment, or 27% of the total patients. Another 2,685 patients, or 55%, were never hospitalized. Those numbers number may be higher, because hospitalization status is unknown in 18% of cases.

Wisconsin's hospitals have 11,620 beds occupied and 4,019 beds available.


The state does not report the number of patients who are recovered, saying there's no standard for measuring recovery. The CDC says health care workers can return to work if they go 72 hours without a fever without fever-reducing medication and it's been at least 7 days since the onset of symptoms; and preferably, they're retested for COVID-19 and get two consecutive negative test results from nasal swabs at least 24 hours apart. Michigan Public Health, for comparison, considers a patient recovered if they're alive 30 days after the onset of symptoms.

Symptoms and Prevention

Brown County Public Health strongly emphasized the need to maintain physical distance, saying its recent surge is the result of people spreading the virus by close contact. It says people are safer in their homes and should reduce contact with people outside of their household, even relatives.

People of all ages can get sick from the coronavirus. It's a new virus, and nobody has natural immunity to it. The CDC says symptoms may appear between 2 and 14 days after contact with an infected person, but studies find 1 in 4 people carrying (and potentially spreading) the virus may have no symptoms.

Symptoms include a fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Emergency signs include pain and pressure in the chest, confusion, trouble breathing, and bluish lips or face.

"The virus is found in droplets from the throat and nose. When someone coughs or sneezes, other people near them can breathe in those droplets. The virus can also spread when someone touches an object with the virus on it. If that person touches their mouth, face, or eyes, the virus can make them sick," says DHS.

Older people and those with underlying health conditions (heart disease, diabetes, lung disease) are considered at high risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Precautions are also needed around people with developing or weakened immune systems, including young children, pregnant women and certain medical patients.

To help prevent the spread of the virus:

  • Stay at least six feet away from other people.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay at home as much as possible. Cancel events and avoid groups, gatherings, play dates and nonessential appointments
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care
  • Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a mask. At a minimum, use a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Clean frequently-touched surfaces and objects daily (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles).