Family of Fond du Lac man who died asks public to take coronavirus seriously

FOND DU LAC, Wis. (WBAY) - The family of a Fond du Lac County man who died from COVID-19 is asking the public to take the illness seriously.

An obituary for Dale Witkowski is posted on the Zacherl Funeral Home website. CLICK HERE to view the full obituary.

“We ask you to be serious about COVID-19. Please do not panic, rather educate yourself and your family.  Please do not blame or shun, rather be supportive and compassionate, especially with the people who have tested positive for this virus.  We responded too slowly as a country and now we are seeing devastating effects in our country, state and community and for us, our family.  Knowledge and mindful, safe practices are what is needed now,” reads the obituary.

Witkowski passed away March 19 at St. Agnes Hospital in Fond du Lac. Witkowski was one of the patients in Fond du Lac County who contracted the coronavirus while on an Egypt river cruise.

“He celebrated his 55th birthday in Egypt on a trip with one of his sisters. While in Egypt, he contracted COVID-19 and succumbed to this ugly virus at St. Agnes Hospital in Fond du Lac, WI,” reads the obit.

Witkowski is survived by nine siblings. The obituary calls him “a big teddy bear of a man.”

“Dale was a giant shining light in our lives and in this world. Those who knew him appreciated his tremendous heart of gold and terrific sense of humor. His house was always open (and tidy) and his fridge full (and organized) for friends and family.  Dale was constantly helping those in need and was a treasure to elders who could always count on him.  He was the “go to guy” for so many people.   Dale sure had a generous spirit,” family say.

Dale worked for years at Mercury Marine. He was manager of MercNET at the time of his death. A letter sent home to employees and shared with Action 2 News remembers Witkowski as “humble, selfless and a great listener.”

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dale’s family and his many friends. He will be missed by all who knew him.”

Wisconsin has recorded four deaths from coronavirus as of this publication. On Saturday, there were more than 280 confirmed cases in the state.

CLICK HERE to track cases in Wisconsin.

"COVID-19 will impact thousands of Wisconsinites," says Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm.

Health and government officials are asking everyone to stay home and practice self-isolation. Wash your hand thoroughly and disinfect surfaces.

VISIT wbay.com/coronavirus for local, national and international coverage of the pandemic.

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.

COVID-19 is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

"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 the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

The CDC believes symptoms may appear between two and 14 days after contact with an infected person.

Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Emergency signs include pain and pressure in the chest, confusion and bluish lips or face. CLICK HERE for more information on symptoms.

DHS recommends taking these steps to help stop the spread of the virus:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating and after going to the bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If you do not have soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.