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Dane Co. Board to vote on extending COVID-19 emergency

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MADISON (WKOW) -- While the trend of new cases is declining in Dane County, the board of supervisors will vote Thursday to extend its emergency order amid a spike in cases elsewhere in the state that has made Wisconsin one of the hottest spots in the U.S.

On Wednesday, that sharp increase in new cases, hospitalizations and a single-day record for deaths, drove officials from the Department of Health Services (DHS) to implore the public to act as though the stay-at-home order from the spring was back in place.

"We are in a generalized outbreak now," said DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk.

Van Dijk cited hospitals in the Green Bay area warning they were on the verge of running out of beds. She expressed concern spread elsewhere in the region would prompt the state to activate plans to open a field hospital. President Donald Trump plans to hold a campaign rally in Green Bay Saturday evening.

"At this point in time, at these very high levels throughout our state in almost every community, you should assume if you are going out, people you are seeing may very well have COVID-19," Van Dijk said.

Dane County initially declared COVID-19 an emergency in March, then issued an extension in May that runs to October 12. County Board Chair Analiese Eicher said Wednesday she, and other board members, figured then there would be no need to extend the emergency beyond the fall.

"I honestly think a lot of us expected we would be in a much different place, that we would be getting better with our reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic," Eicher said.

While the trend of new cases is on a sharp incline for Wisconsin as a whole, it's driven mainly by the rapid spread of cases in the north and northeastern parts of the state. In Dane County, the trend is decreasing after a spike in early September following the arrival of students on the UW-Madison campus.

Eicher said she's still concerns about another spike in Dane County, adding the emergency declaration will allow the county to access aid more easily should it become necessary.

"Being able to access federal resources, support our public health department," Eicher said. "Being able to move resources, if needed, to support the community through the COVID-19 pandemic."

The Dane County Board will also vote Thursday on a resolution calling on UW-Madison to stop all in-person classes.

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A. J. Bayatpour

Capitol Bureau Chief

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