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Sauk Co. to remain in Phase 1 of reopening; Dane Co. to announce decision Friday

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Coverage of Wisconsin Bouncing Back from COVID-19 during the cornavirus pandemic

BARABOO (WKOW) -- Sauk County Public Health announced Tuesday morning the county will stay in the first phase of its reopening plan amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a release, the agency said it could not trace 33% of Sauk County's confirmed cases to a direct source, which is a key indicator of community spread. With a rate above 30%, that put Sauk County in the "red" stage of the community spread metric. SCPH said more than half of the test results had not arrived in a timely manner, which also put the county in the "red" stage for that metric.

Sauk County Public Health also reported more positive cases over the previous 14 days than the threshold the county had set.

"At this time, the best thing for Sauk County is to stay in Phase 1 of our reopening," said Tim Lawther, Sauk County Health Officer. "We will reassess the data and make an announcement about whether we are ready to move into Phase 2 on June 15.”

Officials at Public Health Madison & Dane County said they will announce on Friday whether the county has met the criteria to move into Phase 2. Tuesday will mark 14 days since Dane County moved into Phase 1; PHMDC officials said following the 14-day period, they would need time to dig into the data and evaluate case trends before deciding whether Dane County can move into Phase 2.

Under the criteria PHMDC has set, more than half of the key metrics must be in the "green" stage and none of the epidemiology criteria can be in "red." As of Tuesday morning, six of the nine criteria were in green but lab reporting timeliness was still in red; community spread and cases-per-day metrics were in yellow.

Dr. Jeff Pothof, Chief Quality Officer for UW Health said Monday Dane County has seen a slight increase in testing and still outperforming the rest of the state.

"Dane County is not necessarily gaining in cases but it's been kind of steady, a tenth of a percentage point of daily positive cases," Pothof said. "I think that's been going on for the most part the last week or so, so I think that's good news."

However, Dr. Pothof warned that he believed health officals should take a conservative approach to reopening more of the county, mentioning both large gatherings over Memorial Day weekend and the throngs of protesters marching against police brutality and racial injustice.

"I think it'll be interesting to see Memorial Day where it seemed like a lot of people were out, we'll be seeing if that has an impact pretty soon," Pothof said. "And then I think there could be some hesitancy of opening things up with all the protests because we might open things up just in time for cases to start to surge."

Under the Forward Dane plan, Phase 2 would allow for the reopening of K-12 and university classrooms. It would also allow restaurants, retail shops, and offices to increase their maximum capacity from 25% to 50% of the normal occupancy limit.

A. J. Bayatpour

Reporter, WKOW 27

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