City News

Madison public health department assures residents coronavirus risk remains low

Image By: Will Cioci

The City of Madison and its public health department held a joint press conference on Wednesday to discuss the potential risk to Dance County after several residents tested positive for the coronavirus. 

As of Thursday, there are four confirmed cases in Dane County, according to Public Health Madison and Dane County.

Mayor Satya-Rhodes Conway, County Executive Joe Parisi and representatives from UW Health and Meriter Hospital were in attendance. 

“While a person’s chances of getting sick from coronavirus in Wisconsin are still low right now, we need to ask everyone to be a public health practitioner and advocate and to follow our recommendations to prevent wide-spread illness in the future,” Director of Public Health for Madison and Dane County Janel Heinrich said. 

Their recommendations include everyday prevention: staying home when sick, practicing good hygiene and hand washing, disinfecting frequently touched objects and postponing or canceling unnecessary domestic and international travel.

If travel is essential, Public Health recommends a 14-day self-quarantine upon return. 

“We know that the closer in proximity people are to each other, the more easily this virus spreads,” Heinrich stated. “We are recommending that those who are at higher risk for severe illness — people 60 or over, people with underlying health conditions and people who are pregnant — should stay home and away from large groups.” 

The health department confirmed the ideal spacing to minimize transmission of the virus is six feet. 

“As the prevalence of COVID-19 around the U.S. is increasing, so is the understandable concern all of us have for the wellbeing of our families and our community,” County Executive Joe Parisi said. “Dane County government is actively planning, should the need arise, for us to adjust operations if community spread of coronavirus occurs.” 

Parisi shared when the first resident tested positive for the virus several weeks ago, the city began working to ensure there would be collaboration between county government departments and Public Health Madison and Dane County if the virus began to spread.

Dane County Emergency Management, the Sheriff's office and 911 have also been working together to plan and respond to the virus. 

There are additional proposals to create a community-wide emergency command center that will include Madison education organizations, municipalities, public safety and human services personnel and equity leaders.

Mayor Satya-Rhodes Conway urged businesses, institutions and individuals to follow suit and take precautionary steps in preventing the spread of the coronavirus in Madison. 

“I want to thank all of our residents for keeping their heads and responding in a calm and appropriate fashion and following the guidance emerging from our public health department,” she stated. “We are no longer solely focused on the individual cases here in Dane County. We are focused on protecting our entire community.”

While the number of cases across the country continues to grow, the city maintains the risk to residents remains low. 

Updates on coronavirus, as well as information and recommendations to residents, can be found on the Public Health Madison and Dane County website

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