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KENOSHA ⏤ Kenosha County Medical Examiner Patrice Hall is strongly urging the public to stay home and avoid gatherings during the holidays.

The impetus for her pleas? An increased case volume in her office in recent months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The numbers are stark,” said Hall, whose office handles death investigations and signs off on death certificates in cases that fall under Kenosha County jurisdiction.

“In all of 2019, our office signed 274 death certificates. This year, through Dec. 17, we’ve signed 531.”

That total of 531 includes all deaths involving COVID-19, Hall’s office added.

“Whether the person died as a direct result of the virus due to a combination for the virus and other pre-existing conditions,” the office said in a release. 

Current COVID-19 numbers

According to the county COVID-19 dashboard, as of Friday afternoon, 11,377 cases of the virus have been confirmed in the county this year.

Since Sunday, 500 positive cases have been reported in the county. This has raised the overall number from 10,900 cases on Sunday to 11,400 cases by Friday. 

The county, too, has seen 190 coronavirus-related deaths in 2020, according to a release from the office Friday.

As expected, the portion of the county with the largest number of cases is the city of Kenosha. It had a reported 7,200 positive cases this year as of Friday. The second-largest number of cases came from Pleasant Prairie. 

‘Particularly notable’ increase in medical examiner cases

In November, the Medical Examiner’s office saw a particularly notable increase in deaths reported: 217 cases.

That number is compared with 141 in November 2019 and 121 in November 2018. 

For December, the office has received 101 cases through Thursday; the full-month totals were 123 in 2019 and 116 in 2018. 

“I know that we are now many months into this pandemic. People are missing getting together with their family and friends, and many are tired of hearing the warnings about the virus,” Hall said.

“But this is truly a matter of life and death. COVID-19 is continuing to take lives. And now is not yet the time to back off on our vigilance in trying to slow the spread of the virus.”

‘It’s not worth the risk’ 

 “I beg people to stay within your own family, your own household this holiday season,” Hall added. 

“Do not spend time with people who do not live in your house. It’s not worth the risk.” 

More information about COVID-19 is available on the Kenosha County COVID-19 Response Hub website at https://www.kenoshacounty.org/covid-19.

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Daniel Thompson is an independent journalist and the founder of The Uptown Observer based in the Kenosha, Wis., area. He started in journalism at the Western Nebraska Observer in 2012 and, most notably,...