UPDATE: Chippewa County Health Department holds COVID-19 briefing

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CHIPPEWA COUNTY, Wis. (WEAU)-- The Chippewa County Health Department held their weekly update for COVID-19 and currently has 54 positive cases.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 27th UPDATE:

54 confirmed cases (increase of 11 from last week)
2,439 negative tests
40 confirmed cases out of isolation
14 monitoring
1 hospitalization
0 deaths

Last week the county had it's first investigation at a group home. Worked with the National Guard for testing at the facility.

School Update:
Schools will be closed until June 30th. Once they are open, they will need to adjust cleaning and physical distancing. Any staff and students that feel sick will be asked to stay home. Health of the the community will dictate when schools will open, but right now the numbers are going in t he wrong direction.

First Responder Update:
Not much has changed since last week. Police and EMS will continue to wear PPE when they respond. There are still people running scams in the area. The government buildings will remain closed.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 20th UPDATE:
43 confirmed cases (increase of 7 from last week)
1,974 negative tests
31 out of isolation
12 monitoring
0 hospitalizations
22 cases over the age of 40, 21 under the age of 40

Chippewa Valley Recovery Task Force:
Jerry Clark talked about the challenges facing the agricultural industry. The market has been already volatile prior to the disease, but now seeing processing line disruptions and the price of crops such as corn and soybeans drop due to lack of fuel demand. Greenhouse and the nursery are getting help to manage with larger crowds coming in. They are providing resources to help minimize contact for deliveries on farms. Crops are pretty much planted. They are helping provide information on reducing milk and livestock production.

All non-essential functions of county buildings are closed to the public. They are making a plan for when they can safely reopen. People should prearrange for services. The court, sheriff's, jail and human resources offices are still open.

School update:
Nothing has really changed with schools as the Supreme Court ruling did not affect school closing. They are still closed until June 30th. They will wait for guidance for what they can do on July 1st. Meal services continue until August. Free for those under 18-years of age. They are serving nearly 3000 meals a day. Schools are not advised to hold large scale graduations as this time. Virtual ceremonies are the only risk free option, but drive-thru and mask/social distancing ceremonies may be possible. The school district is still planning with county health professionals.

Law enforcement update:
Police and EMS continue to use PPE. There are many scams going around, some involving people claiming to contact tracing. Don't click on email links or send personal information. Contact the county health department to make sure it is legit. If you have been tested and need results, contact your healthcare provider for results.

Maintaining social distancing and keeping a small circle still very important. The disease is still here.

Questions:
Will there be another National Guard mass testing event?
Currently nothing is scheduled, but the National Guard is helping with testing long-term care facilities.

Will more testing be available for more "asymptomatic" people?
Currently the county is focusing on those who have symptoms.

What is their thoughts on the use of Hydroxychloroquine?
They have not received many calls on it, but it is not approved for treatment of COVID-19 and would not recommend it.


FRIDAY, MAY 15th UPDATE:

Chippewa County COVID-19 numbers:
36 positive cases (increase of 9 from last week)
1,617 negative tests
26 individuals out of isolation, monitoring 10
No hospitalizations or deaths

Community testing, they had 142 tests at Thorp, 115 in Ladysmith. Eau Claire and Dunn County had 505 total.

They are not enacting a local order right now. Working with state and local leaders to see what the next step is. Asking people to voluntarily follow guidelines from the WEDC plan.

Chief of Police Matt Kelm:

Very little actual enforcement needed to be done regarding "Safer at Home". No first responders have tested positive. Law enforcement will continue to wear PPE. Asking that the public to follow social distancing guidelines.

County Administrator Randy Scholz;
They are determining how to safely reopen county buildings. Visitors are required to make appointments. Will have updated plan soon.

Questions:

Were they surprised they didn't get more people to be tested?
-Yes, they were surprised the numbers were not high, but thankful for what they did get. Are hoping to open up testing to more people soon. The Governor announced long-care staff and residents will be able to be tested. In the future more asymptomatic people will be tested as well.

What is are the number of contact investigators in the county?
-They have 6 individuals who regularly do the job and so far have been able to handle it. They also trained 6 detectives from the sheriff's office and 8 social workers as well and paired them with a nurse. 20 total trained for worse-case scenario.

Are they working on enacting a local order?
-They accessed it and at this time do not think the have the authority to enforce an order. They want to make sure they are on "solid ground" before anything would be put in place.

Will they still respond to reports on social distancing?
-Yes, they will still respond and continue to warn and educate people. They cannot give citations at this point.

Can churches reopen this weekend?
-There are recommendations available on opening safely.


WEDNESDAY MAY 6TH UPDATE:

Chippewa County COVID-19 numbers:
27 positive cases (increase of 6 since last week)
19 released from isolation
8 monitoring
0 hospitalizations
16 cases are over the age of 40, 11 cases under the age of 40

Free drive thru testing sites to be run by the National Guard:
-Clark, Taylor and Chippewa Counties at Thorp H.S. on May 13th (11am-7pm)
-Chippewa and Rusk Counties at Rusk County Fairgrounds in Ladysmith, May 14th (11am-7pm)
-Eau Claire, Dunn County at CVTC Prevea site May 10th (8am-5pm) and May 11th (11am)

Any Wisconsin resident older than 5-years and showing some symptoms can be tested. Can't test anybody from out of state. Not an antibody test.

Mothers Day: People should celebrate through phone calls, virtual meetings and if they are in the same household.

Chippewa Falls School Update:
Around 3000 meals are being distrubuted and they are also teaming to provide weekend food bags. Additional funding and services are not available.

Gatherings or graduations currently are not allowed until June 30th. They will get further guidance from the state soon.

Chippewa Public Safety Update:
Most businesses and people following the orders. People should watch out for scams. Run any plans that seem to good to be true by somebody first .

Questions:

How were the testing sites determined?
-11 counties working together to pick sites.

How many tests are available at the sites?
-300 tests per day at each site.

Have we reached the "peak" for cases in Wisconsin?
-Numbers are still climbing, so likely we have not reached the peak.

Can people who are not showing symptoms get tested at the sites?
- If you are over 65 you are able to get tested and if you have had contact with somebody who has tested positive.


Wednesday, April 29 update:

Health officials say recovered patients are those that tested positive and then also later tested negative on two different tests, 24 hours apart. Chippewa County has not been reporting negative cases due to lack of tests, but will be reporting those who are allowed out of isolation.

NUMBERS:
Nobody currently hospitalized
1,004 negative test results
1,042 total tests given
Currently no deaths

The Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District says if parents notice their child being frustrated with school work, they are asked to reach out to the child's teacher.

Law enforcement says the calls for services has gone down and there are only currently two referrals to the DA's office that will be addressed.

The health department is looking for more people to get tested, saying they are knowing there are people who have symptoms who are not able to get a test. They also noted that an increase in testing would allow for better data.

Chippewa County does not currently have a target number of tests given yet.