A second person, who lives in Pierce County, has tested positive for COVID-19.

The person had been traveling within the United States and has been put into isolation at home, according to officials with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Pierce County Health Department.

The county is on the western side of Wisconsin. The first case was reported in Madison. To date, 38 people have been tested for the virus. Of those people tested, two cases of the virus have been confirmed, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

The virus is spread mainly from person to person. Originating in China, health experts have signaled concern because little is known about the virus. It can cause severe illness and pneumonia in some individuals.

Pierce County Health officials are mapping out who the person may have been in contact with to determine if those people need to be isolated or quarantined, and to test them. A media briefing has been set for Tuesday.

“With a second confirmed case in our state we continue to urge state residents to take precautions to avoid illness,” said State Health Officer Jeanne Ayers. “As guidance is evolving, it’s important for people to monitor the DHS and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) websites for the latest information on COVID-19.”

What to do if you think you have COVID-19

DHS is asking that people who travel to places with active COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks to self-monitor and self-quarantine. Symptoms include fever, cough, or breathing problems. If those symptoms occur, please contact the local health department and ask your health care provider for possible testing.

“The Pierce County Public Health Department will continue to work closely with our partners to respond to this situation. The individual who tested positive is cooperating with home isolation. Their family is also staying home,” said AZ Snyder Pierce County Health Officer.

The Pierce County Public Health Department and DHS responsibilities include:

  • Identifying and contacting anyone who has been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19. These people are asked to quarantine themselves for 14 days from their exposure and will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms. People with symptoms are tested for COVID-19.
  • Performing follow-up testing for individuals who test positive to determine when a person can be released from isolation.
  • Providing guidance to clinicians regarding testing.
  • Preparing Wisconsin for community spread of COVID-19.

If the virus spreads, according to DHS

If COVID-19 disease begins to spread in Wisconsin communities, state and local public health officials would consider community interventions such as temporary closures of child care facilities and schools, workplace social distancing measures such as replacing in-person meetings with teleworking, and modifying, postponing, or canceling mass gatherings. Decisions about the implementation of community measures would be made by state and local officials based on CDC guidance as well as the scope of the outbreak.

DHS is working with our local and tribal health officers, health care providers, and other partners to be prepared in the event of a COVID-19 pandemic. While the risk of getting the illness remains low, people should follow simple steps to avoid getting sick, including:

  • Frequent and thorough handwashing.
  • Covering coughs and sneezes.
  • Avoiding touching your face.
  • Staying home when sick.

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.