Coronavirus spreads

Updated 3-24-20, 6:00 p.m.
Joe Block

A week after the area slowly began the realize the Coronavirus was not something 'out there,' area villages and counties have declared states of emergencies and Governor Evers has enacted a "Safer at Home" order.  Sauk, Dane, and Iowa Counties have all reported cases, with Dane counting 70 cases as of March 23. Sauk County is reporting four, and Iowa one case.

On Tuesday, Evers issued the 'Safer at Home' order, prohibiting nonessential travel and closing most businesses. The order began at 8 a.m. Wednesday and will remain in effect until Friday, 8 a.m., April 24.

"Issuing a Safer at Home order isn’t something I thought we’d have to do and it’s not something I take lightly," said Evers, "but here’s the bottom line: folks need to start taking this seriously."

People do not need permission to leave their homes, but must abide by the restrictions. No documentation or certification is needed for those leaving home or workers at essential businesses.

Evers specified that residents may:

Perform tasks essential to maintain health and safety, such as obtaining medicine or seeing a doctor.

Get necessary services or supplies for themselves or their family or household members, such as getting food and supplies, pet food and supplies necessary for staying at home.

Care for a family member in another household.

Care for older adults, minors, dependents, people with disabilities or other vulnerable persons.

Some businesses considered essential include:

Those that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise vulnerable individuals.

Fresh and non-perishable food retailers, including convenience stores, grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and food banks.

Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food and goods directly to residences.

Pharmacies, health care supply stores and health care facilities.

Gas stations and auto repair facilities.


Hardware stores, plumbers, and electricians.

Roles required for any business to maintain minimum basic operations, which includes security, and payroll.

The news media, including newspapers.

Evers again outlined the steps necessary to prevent illness and the spread of COVID-19. They include:

Avoid social gatherings with people of all ages.

Frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water.

Cover coughs and sneezes.

Avoiding touching your face.

Staying home.

Evers later tweeted: "The Safer at Home order I issued today, isn’t a joke. It’s a necessary precaution that will help protect the health and lives of many. #StayHome because it’s #SaferAtHome for you, your family, your neighbors, and our communities."

People can monitor the DHS website for updates, and follow @DHSWI on Facebook and Twitter, or www.dhs.wi on Instagram. Additional information can be found on the CDC website.


Across Sauk County, offices announced either restricted hours or closed entirely. Every few days Sauk Prairie Healthcare increased visitor restrictions. In Dane County, where cases are rising, agencies like the Sheriff's department modified procedures.

But the area is much better off than places like New York, Ohio, Washington state, and California, where cases are spiking, and personal protective equipment is increasingly hard to come by. Local agencies here, like the Sauk Prairie Police Department, have still put out a call for residents to make masks.

According to a Washington Post article:

"The pattern of flu deaths over the past five years, however, shows that big metro areas are not hot spots for high flu death rates. Most of the deaths are among the large population in big cities, but the risk for any individual person goes up dramatically where homes are sparse."

The article continues, "The higher rates in remote areas may be due to difficulty getting health care. Rural residents have greater travel distances for more limited resources."

Shawn Lerch, Chief Executive Officer, Sauk Prairie Healthcare had the following to say:

“COVID-19 is one of the greatest challenges that we as a nation, a community, and your healthcare providers have faced. If we’re not able to slow the spread of Coronavirus, the possible surge of patients will extend beyond what our region’s health systems have the capacity to care for."

Lerch continued, "At Sauk Prairie Healthcare, we’ve been working diligently to prepare for Coronavirus for several weeks. This extensive preparedness is in collaboration with numerous community and healthcare partners. These collaborative teams consist of intelligent, caring, resourceful and devoted caregivers and support teams. Our planning focuses on meeting the needs of a large influx in  patients requiring advanced, critical care. This global pandemic will take everyone to slow the spread and lessen the surge of patients currently seen in Europe. That why it is critical that our communities take Governor Evers’ “Safer at Home” orders seriously. This current guidance from national and global experts is focused on slowing the spread and ensuring our health systems have the necessary resources. This method focused on social distancing, minimize travel, monitoring for symptoms and isolating/quarantine at early onset of symptoms."

"We need everyone to limit their interactions to the same people — like family members in your house — not even small groups of friends. Social distancing, truly means maintaining distance from everyone. It’s extremely important to  know that the choices you make today, could make the difference in how hard our communities are impacted by this virus. We are all in this pandemic fight together. People need to understand, the plea to social distance and stay at home is not just about Coronavirus, it’s most importantly about our region’s health systems’ ability to provide critical, lifesaving care.”

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