Health Officials Confirm First Case of Novel Coronavirus in Wisconsin

By Will Kenneally | Here & Now

February 5, 2020 • South Central Region

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Health Officials Confirm First Case of Novel Coronavirus in Wisconsin

The first Wisconsin case of novel coronavirus was confirmed by health officials Wednesday, while two cases remain pending. 

Local officials confirmed that the infected person was a resident of Dane County but that risk of contracting the virus remained low for the general population. 

“The overall risk is low,” Dane County Exec. Joe Parisi said. “We are at a much greater risk of getting influenza.”

The infected person has been self-quarantined, according to UW Health Medical Director of Infection Control Dr. Nasia Safdar. 

“UW Health has taken precautions, including ongoing staff training and recently expanding our travel history questions,” she said

Both Parisi and Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway say that the area’s public health department has been preparing for the possible spread of novel coronavirus since January. First responders received special guidance for dealing with potentially sick individuals, and Public Health Madison and Dane County is creating a hotline to provide up to date information to the public. 

“We will coordinate our efforts, keep the public informed, support each other, look out for one another and care for our friends and neighbors,” Parisi said. 

PHMDC is currently monitoring anyone who travelled from China to Dane County since February 2 and isolating anyone who has been tested for symptoms. The department will also follow up with those who have been in close contact with confirmed cases. 

“Given what we have seen in other parts of the globe, it’s reasonable to assume today’s news will not be the last positive case we hear about in our region,” Parisi said. “The news could change a lot over the next several days and weeks, sometimes it may change several times a day, [but] together we will respond as we do with any challenge.”

Health officials recommend covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands frequently and staying home if sick as ways to help stop the spread of the virus. Information on pending coronavirus cases can be found at the state Department of Health Services website and the PHMDC hotline can be found at (608) 243-0587.

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