FRIDAY 3/27/2020 1:45 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) – Governor Tony Evers says that although this is a difficult time, remaining at home is the best way for Wisconsinites to help in slowing the spread of coronavirus in Wisconsin. Gov. Evers, along with state health officials, gave updates on the status of coronavirus in Wisconsin.

According to Gov. Evers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are in Milwaukee to help slow the spread of the virus there. As of Thursday, Milwaukee County had reported 347 cases of coronavirus and has seen eight coronavirus-related deaths.

Related: Wisconsin Coronavirus: Governor orders temporary suspension of evictions, foreclosures

The governor went on to add that he and other state officials are working to combat price gouging of needed supplies and to provide healthcare workers and first responders with the necessary personal protective equipment, or PPEs. The state has set up a website in order for residents to provide donations of unused PPEs. That website can be found here.

Related: Wisconsin governor asks Legislature to take action, send absentee ballots to all registered voters for April 7 election

Gov. Evers went on to explain how his latest order to temporarily suspend evictions and foreclosures is crucial to the state’s health, as is his request for the Legislature to take action and send absentee ballots to registered voters living in Wisconsin.

“Things are going to get worse before they get better,” Gov. Evers says, adding that staying home is crucial during this time.

Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm says that, without social distancing, Wisconsin could see 22,000 residents infected by coronavirus by April 8. Sec. Palm explains that that number does not correlate to a number of positive tests, adding that testing would likely show a lower number based on the state’s tiered approach to testing.

Why today are you calling on the Legislature to do something about the upcoming vote rather than using an executive order?

Gov. Evers says the Legislature is the best method to make changes to the upcoming vote.

Ryan Nilsestuen, Chief Legal Counsel, Office of the Governor, adds that “an Executive Order today could result in a lawsuit tomorrow.”

The City of Green Bay filed a federal lawsuit earlier this week, seeking to cancel in-person voting and give the city until June 2 to count absentee ballots. Yesterday, Washington County announced they would intervene in that lawsuit.

What is the status of coronavirus testing in the state?

Sec. Palm says that about 2,000 tests for coronavirus are conducted each day in Wisconsin in about 40 labs across the state. With this, Sec. Palm says the state, like others across the nation, is experiencing shortages of testing material. This is not causing a backlog of testing but has spurred Wisconsin’s tiered approach to testing.

Any idea how many people might be infected and don’t know it?

Sec. Palm says that, based on the state’s tiered, priority testing, there are undoubtedly more cases of coronavirus in Wisconsin than those reported.

Dr. Ryan Westergaard, Chief Medical Officer of the Bureau of Communicable Diseases explains that they don’t want everyone to be tested in order to save testing materials for those who are experiencing more serious symptoms of coronavirus.

What about those struggling to get through for unemployment?

Gov. Evers says staffing has been increasing for the unemployment office, but the system will never be fool-proof. Despite this, Gov. Evers says he believes the system is in a good place right now.

Related: Wisconsin’s self-employed struggle to stay afloat during coronavirus pandemic
What about those employees who are afraid to go work?

Nilsestuen says those employees can contact WBD and local authorities if they are concerned that they should not be working during the ‘Safer At Home’ order.

Do you agree with the federal government’s approach in dividing up counties?

Gov. Evers thinks the U.S. is not ready to begin dividing states into low-, medium-, and high-risk areas. Dr. Westergaard says he would consider all areas of Wisconsin at high-risk of seeing the spread of the coronavirus based on what health officials have seen around the world.

With some of these essential businesses still open, if they do experience a case of coronavirus, what happens?

Sec. Palm says that, after a person tests positive for coronavirus, contact tracing begins. This means health officials reach out to anyone who may have been in contact with the patient. According to Dr. Westergaard, people are notified if health officials believe they have been exposed. Notifying that patient’s employer of the test results would likely not occur in order to protect the patient’s privacy. Dr. Westergaard explains that the main focus of contact tracing is to notify those in direct contact with the patient.

Should those people who enter Wisconsin be asked to self-quarantine?

Dr. Westergaard says that, early on, those returning from ‘coronavirus hot spots’ were asked to quarantine. Now, Dr. Westergaard says that, under the ‘Safer At Home’ order, officials are emphasizing residents to not travel and deemphasizing screening people as they enter the state.

As we continue with social distancing and ‘Safer At Home,’ will we start to receive the recovery numbers?

Dr. Westergaard says that recoveries aren’t being recorded consistently. Because of this, Dr. Westergaard explains the Wisconsin Department of Health will not report recoveries for fear that the data may be accurate. Those who test positive for coronavirus are not tested again to determine if they have recovered.

How much PPE does Wisconsin have and how much is the state asking for?

Nilsestuen explains that state officials are working with the federal government and vendors to gather additional PPEs for Wisconsin healthcare workers.

What is the average wait time for testing right now? Are they still be reserved for the most symptomatic patients first?

Sec. Palm explains that those who need the tests most – like healthcare workers and those in more serious conditions – are prioritized in the state right now. Testing for these patients usually takes about one to two days to show results.

Is the rate of growth of coronavirus high in Wisconsin?

The peak of cases of coronavirus in Wisconsin might be two weeks away, according to Dr. Westergaard, based on estimations by health officials. By social distancing, Dr. Westergaard says officials are hoping we approach that peak sooner, with fewer people affected. At that point, officials hope fewer coronavirus cases would be reported, showing that social distancing worked.

Why is the CDC in Milwaukee?

Gov. Evers explains that the CDC is in Milwaukee for various reasons. Sec. Palm says the CDC is not only helping officials in the area, but to understand the science behind the coronavirus. Currently, officials with Milwaukee County and the CDC are working hard to do contract tracing for each patient. This is a crucial step, according to Sec. Palm.

County clerks are reporting they do not have enough resources to supply absentee ballots for all the registered voters – how would only absentee voting work?

Gov. Evers says he believes the Wisconsin Elections Commission has just received additional supplies to distribute to municipalities for the upcoming election. Nilsestuen says there is a team working to ensure the April 7 election goes smoothly.

What about reports of the hoarding of medication?

Dr. Westergaard says that there is preliminary testing that chloroquine, the drug used to fight malaria and lupus, is showing that it can help patients with coronavirus. With that, state officials have not received any specific reports of this happening in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Governor, DHS to give update on state’s coronavirus response

FRIDAY 3/27/2020 10:30 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) – Governor Tony Evers is expected to participate in a media briefing to provide an update on the status of Wisconsin’s coronavirus response at 1:30 p.m. on Monday. He will be joined by Secretary-designee Andrea Palm of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, and Dr. Ryan Westergaard, Chief Medical Officer of the Bureau of Communicable Diseases.

During the briefing, officials are expected to answer questions about Wisconsin’s response to the coronavirus pandemic as well as additional steps people can take to avoid illness.

This will be the first media briefing since Gov. Evers’ ‘Safer at Home’ order went into effect on Wednesday morning. Since then, Wisconsin has seen an increase of over 120 positive cases of coronavirus and at least seven coronavirus-related deaths.