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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) & General News

Posted on: May 15, 2020

Portage County Covid-19 Order #1

Portage County is issuing this order as part of its continued commitment to control the transmission of the COVID-19 virus throughout our communities and its goal of being a Wisconsin county that is a safe, healthy and vibrant place to live.

Portage County recognizes that the State of Wisconsin and Portage County have made great progress in controlling the spread COVID-19. We further recognize that this situation continues to evolve and may require future orders to protect the public’s health and safety. Portage County is issuing this order as part of its continued commitment to control the transmission of the virus throughout our communities and its goal of being a Wisconsin county that is a safe, healthy and vibrant place to live.  

In making future decisions Portage County will be guided by the following principles and practices:

  • Protecting public health and safety are our primary responsibility.
  • Continuation and resumption of business and personal activity is essential to the well-being of our community.
  • Scientific data and local information must guide our public health decision-making.
  • Any orders issued will be consistent with established legal authority granted to Local Health Officers, pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 252.03(1) & (2).
  • Any orders issued will strive to avoid inequity amongst the individuals, businesses, and communities impacted.
  • Gathering perspectives from local stakeholders is valuable.
  • We trust that residents and businesses will follow recommendations and guidance from Public Health authorities to protect each other.

Pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 252.03(1) & (2), the undersigned Health Officer recommends the following within Portage County:

Individuals and Families

  • Practice Physical Distancing and Protective Measures, including the following:
    • Maintaining physical distancing of six (6) feet between people not residing in a single living unit or household;
    • Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer between hand washings;
    • Covering coughs or sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands);
    • Regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces;
    • Not shaking hands;
    • Use of a mask or cloth face covering when physical distancing is not practical;
    • Limiting travel to reduce the potential for virus transmission;
    • Following all other public health recommendations issued by the State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Portage County Division of Public Health, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Stay home when sick and seek appropriate medical care.

Vulnerable Populations

  • Elderly people and those who are vulnerable as a result of underlying health conditions should practice physical distancing and protective measures listed above in addition to staying at home as much as possible.
  • People at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and people who are sick are urged to stay in their home or residence to the extent possible except as necessary to seek medical care. 
  • Nothing in this Order prevents the local health authority from issuing and enforcing isolation and quarantine orders pursuant to Wis. State § 252 and local ordinances.

Businesses, Non-Profits, and other Entities

Implement strategies and practices provided in the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Reopening Guideline, the Center of Disease Control , and the State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Consult with the Portage County Business Council and the Portage County Division of Public Health to gather additional information to safely resume business activities.

Mass Gatherings:*

Individuals should avoid situations where you are unable to exercise appropriate physical distancing with non-household members. Social settings of more than 50 people, where appropriate distancing may not be practical or possible, should be avoided unless precautionary measures are observed. 

Businesses, Non-Profits, and other Entities should reduce capacity and modify physical spaces to ensure adequate physical distancing for customers and staff.

*At this time, the term “Mass Gatherings” is not specifically defined given the wide variation of spaces and uses governed by this order.  It is recommended to maintain physical distancing of six (6) feet between people not residing in a single living unit or household to observe social distancing.  

Enforcement

This order provides recommendations and does not provide for enforcement via civil or criminal penalty.  

Public Health Authority

The public health authority of the Division of Public Health revolves around local responses that are necessary and appropriate given the situation. Any member of the public can contact the Division to make a formal complaint and the Division will order the appropriate level of enforcement for anything that is deemed a human health hazard related to COVID-19 and any other cause of a potential human health hazard.

Supremacy

This order, and the recommendations, does not provide for enforcement via civil or criminal penalty.

Duration

This order shall become effective immediately. This order shall remain in effect until revoked or superseded by subsequent order.

Gary L. Garske, RS, MPH
May 15, 2020

This order was created following consultation with and input from:

  • Chris Holman, Portage County Executive
  • Al Haga, Portage County Board Chair
  • Ray Przybelski, Health and Human Services Director
  • Mike Lukas, Portage County Sheriff
  • Mike Wiza, Mayor of Stevens Point
  • Meleesa Johnson, President Stevens Point Common Council
  • Tom Zenner, Assistant Chief City of Stevens Point 
  • Dan Mahoney, Village of Plover Administrator
  • Tom Davies, Village of Plover President
  • Dan Ault, Village of Plover Police Chief
  • Tony Babl, Chief of Police UWSP

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