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Dane County moves to Phase 2 of COVID-19 order Monday, further expanding businesses
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Dane County moves to Phase 2 of COVID-19 order Monday, further expanding businesses

Biz reopening 1 (copy)

Jack Sosnowski, owner of Buck & Badger Northwoods Lodge on State Street, measures his tables to be at least 6 feet apart. Merchants across Dane County were allowed to reopen in late May at 25% capacity and with other restrictions mandated under the health department's reopening plan, Forward Dane.

Dane County will move to Phase 2 of its COVID-19 order starting Monday, meaning many businesses will be able to operate at 50% capacity, up from 25% capacity now.

Public Health Madison and Dane County announced the move Friday, saying key coronavirus data is good enough to open up further. But officials warned that the pandemic is ongoing and urged caution, saying people should continue preventive measures.

“Businesses and workplaces are reopening with required measures to help contain the spread of disease, but COVID-19 is very much still in our community,” Janel Heinrich, Public Health Madison and Dane County director, said in a statement. “We need our community to remain vigilant and careful as we move to new phases so we don’t see a spike in cases.”

As of 8 a.m. Monday, Phase 2 of the county’s Forward Dane order will mean businesses that have faced restrictions — such as restaurants, gyms and retail establishments — can operate at 50% capacity with certain public health requirements and physical distancing.

Indoor gatherings of 50 people or fewer and outdoor gatherings of 100 or fewer people will be allowed, with physical distancing.

Meanwhile, under Phase 2, park courts and fields are open, but individuals must maintain physical distancing. Sports activities have updated requirements; playgrounds and splash pads are open, with physical distancing; and childcare, youth settings, and schools have updated requirements.

To move to Phase 2, the county needed two weeks of Phase 1 data, or from May 26 through June 9, the health department said. More than half of nine metrics needed to be green, and epidemiology criteria — percent positive tests and cases per day — could not be red. As of Friday, six measures are green and three are yellow.

Despite moving to Phase 2, the county since May 21 has seen an increase in average number of new cases per day, from eight to 16, the health department said. That’s one of the yellow indicators; more than 20 cases a day would be red.

The other two yellow metrics are the proportion of recent cases who don’t know where they got COVID-19 and the percentage of cases contacted quickly to allow for rapid isolation and quarantine.

As of Friday, 24% of people who tested positive didn’t know where they could have been infected, indicating community spread of the virus. Less than 20% is green and more than 30% is red.

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About 72% of cases were contacted within 48 hours of testing positive. Less than 70% is red and more than 85% is green. Earlier this week, that indicator had been red — largely because of delays involving a community testing site at the Alliant Energy Center. The site has significantly expanded the county’s testing capacity in recent weeks.

As of Friday, Dane County has had 925 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 30 deaths. Its rate is 175.5 cases per 100,000 people, less than half the statewide rate of 385 per 100,000. Some 3% of cases in the county and the state have resulted in deaths.

“With these trends, we’re reminded that while the phase has changed, the virus still hasn’t. The virus is still as infectious and dangerous as it has always been,” Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said. “We want to stress risk reduction: doing things to minimize your risk while we work back towards normalcy. Remember that the actions you take affect others.”

There is no end date for Phase 2. It will last a minimum of two weeks but could be much longer, the health department said.

In order to move to Phase 3, which would allow capacity at many businesses to expand to 75%, the county needs two full weeks of data, June 15-28, and a few days afterward to compile the data. More than half of metrics must be green, and no metrics in Dane County and the surrounding area can be red.

Based on today’s metrics, the county would not meet the criteria to move to Phase 3.

COVID-19 cases and deaths

The health department advised several preventive measures:

  • Limiting your bubble. Consider how many people you are seeing day to day. The more people you socialize with, the greater the chance you will be exposed or will expose others. By limiting your social circle to fewer people, you will lower your risk and the risk of others.
  • Minimizing trips out. Plan ahead so you can get all the things you need at once. Use online ordering or curbside pickup for lower-risk options.
  • Gathering outside instead of inside. Don’t forget to physically distance yourself and wear a cloth face covering, too.
  • Continuing to participate virtually. Work from home if possible and attend events, services and performances virtually.
  • Getting tested if you need it. The Alliant center site remains open Monday through Saturdays.
  • Continuing to maintain prevention measures. Stay home when you’re sick or feel off, stay 6 feet from people you don’t live with, wear a face covering when you can’t maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow, and wash your hands and use hand sanitizer often.

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