PHMDC Adjusts Metrics, Issues New Order

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Michelle Phillips

DANE COUNTY–Janel Heinrich Director of Public Health of Madison and Dane County (PHMDC) told reporters on at a virtual press conference Tuesday that officials in Dane County are cautiously optimistic about COIVD-19 data in Dane County. 

“Since the beginning of this pandemic, we have been anticipating the impact of COVID-19 on this community,” she said, and added that the county is “seeing signs of hopeful progress.”

That is due to mitigation measures and vaccinations, and Heinrich said over 100,000 people in Dane County have been vaccinated. Statewide, nearly 1.5 million doses have been administered, 500,000 of those second doses. 

She said that as a result of data collection and study of COVID-19, Forward Dane has come up with new metrics to track the virus. Those include the percentage of those fully vaccinated, the percentage partially vaccinated and the percentage of those 65 and older that have received the vaccine. The county will monitor not only the percentage of vaccine, but the coverage of vaccination. It will continue to track case counts and the percentage of positivity, Heinrich said. 

She said that because of the progress made in the county, PHMDC will further relax restrictions with the implementation of Emergency Order #14. 

Changes include:

•Gathering inside where food or drink is offered or provided is limited to 150 individuals. A Gathering inside where food or drink is not offered or provided is limited to 350 individuals. Individuals must maintain six feet physical distancing and face coverings are required.

• Gathering outside is limited to 500 individuals. Individuals must maintain six feet physical distancing. Face coverings required at gatherings of more than 50 individuals.

• The school protective measure policy requirements were updated and includes items about employee face coverings and distancing, distancing for students, and student groupings.

• Restaurants may open up to 50 percent their capacity.

• Taverns must limit indoor dine-in capacity to 25 percent of approved seating capacity levels. Space tables and chairs to ensure at least six feet physical distancing between customers who are not members of the same household or living unit.

These items remain unchanged:

• Face coverings are required in enclosed buildings, while driving with people who are not part of your household, and outdoors at a restaurant or tavern. The types of face coverings allowed was updated to reflect new CDC recommendations.

• Businesses continue to be limited to 50 percent of approved building capacity and must have written cleaning and hygiene policies in place.

• Provisions for continuing education and higher education institutions, industry-specific requirements, health care, public health, human service, infrastructure, manufacturing, government, and religious entities and groups remain unchanged.

On Tuesday Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced it would receive 47,000-48,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine, which was approved for emergency use over the weekend, but additional doses would be slow coming for a few weeks. Currently there are four million of the one dose vaccine available, but J&J announced on Monday that they would be teaming up with pharmaceutical giant Merck to produce 100 million doses between now and the end of July.

Health officials encourage residents to get a vaccine as soon as possible, and to take the one you are offered as all have high efficacy rates and protect against the spread of COVID-19.

“To maintain our progress and continue on this path, we want to remind everyone to stay vigilant by masking up and avoiding close contact with others whenever possible,” Heinrich reminded.

The new order goes into effect on March 10 and is in effect until March 28.




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