OCONTO COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUES A COVID-19 CALL TO ACTION AS LABOR DAY WEEKEND APPROACHES

OCONTO, WI (September 2, 2020)-COVID-19 cases in Oconto County have increased dramatically since late July, health officials report today.  According to data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, in Oconto County:

  • In the first two weeks of July, approximately 2% of tests were positive for COVID-19.  In the last two weeks of August, approximately 16% have been positive. 
  • The number of positive cases doubled from 200 on August 5 to 405 on August 27.
    • This is NOT due to increased testing.  This means that more people who are being tested are sick.  488 people were tested in the first week of August, and 384 in the last week of August. 
  • From August 13-27, the total number of Oconto County residents hospitalized for COVID-19 doubled from 13 to 27.

 “COVID-19 is a health and safety issue.  It is not a political issue.  It is a public health emergency that impacts all of us regardless of age, gender, race or political beliefs,” stated Debra Konitzer, Oconto County Health Officer.  “Our residents are getting sick, some are being hospitalized, and two have died.  We anticipate those numbers to increase.  The elderly and those with chronic conditions are at higher risk, however in Oconto County, 1 in 3 of those hospitalized are young and middle aged adults between the ages of 20-59.” 

Social distancing is a critical step in slowing the spread of COVID-19, Konitzer states.  “With Labor Day weekend approaching, we strongly urge people to avoid hosting or attending large, crowded events.  Keep your gatherings small and outdoors.  Wash your hands often, wear a mask and stay home if you’re sick, on isolation or quarantine or waiting for COVID-19 test results,” she said.   

According to Konitzer, most people with COVID-19 recover.  However, a recent CDC report stated that after three weeks, 35% of adults had lingering symptoms.  Because this is a new disease, the long term effects on the body are not known.

To slow the spread and protect the health and safety of residents, Oconto County health officials strongly urge the following behaviors:

  • Stay home when sick.
  • Follow isolation/quarantine orders by staying home and not going to work, school and other activities.
  • Stay home when waiting for test results.
  • For those who are able, wear a mask when in public.
  • Avoid gathering and crowding together with people that you don’t live with. 
  • Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds.  

“We know that what we are asking people to do is not easy,” stated Konitzer.  “It’s hard to miss out on get togethers with family and friends.  However, we need everyone’s help to slow the spread.  We are at a critical point, and we can all do our part to protect each other.” 

Konitzer also pointed out that for the past month, approximately 30%-40% of hospital beds have been available in a seven county region which includes Oconto County. “This is yet another reminder of the importance of slowing the spread of COVID-19 as hospitals have limited bed availability and we are not in flu season yet,” Konitzer stated. 

For up-to-date COVID-19 information, please visit the Oconto County website at www.co.oconto.wi.us and click on COVID-19 and follow the Oconto County a Place for You Facebook page. Starting in mid-September, look for county specific data to be released on Facebook on a regular basis.