On order of Public Health Madison & Dane County, the Madison Metropolitan School District and nearly two-dozen other Dane County school districts are closing effective immediately, rather than waiting until Wednesday, officials announced Sunday.
Also Sunday, the number of people testing positive for the virus responsible for the illness known as COVID-19 rose to 33, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
The latest increase included five new cases in Fond du Lac County and one new case in Milwaukee County. So far, cases have been reported in total of eight counties; the other six are Dane, Pierce, Winnebago, Waukesha, Racine and Sheboygan counties.
In addition to closing Dane County Schools, the Public Health Madison & Dane County order includes a county-wide directive barring gatherings of 50 or more people. “This order will continue until further notice,” the public health department said in a statement.
“Schools play a crucial role in providing nutrition and other critical services to students, but they also pose a risk to children and staff with underlying health conditions and their closure can reduce community spread of COVID-19,” Janel Heinrich, Public Health Madison & Dane County director, said in a statement. “Closing schools and canceling events are a disruption to our lives, but we believe these measures are necessary for the safety of our community.”
The department also stated that it “strongly recommends that all nonessential social gatherings of under 50 people be postponed,” including employees.
Where gatherings of fewer than 50 must be held, the department is urging that:
- Older adults, pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems and people whose health conditions put them at higher risk of COVID-19 should not attend.
- Among people who do gather, they should not stand closer than six feet apart for more than 10 minutes.
- Gatherings should provide sanitation and prevention hygiene resources to everyone present, including employees.
- Frequently touched objects and surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected.