Governor Evers Declares Public Health Emergency

Gov. Tony Evers, on March 12th, 2020,  declared a public health emergency in response to new cases of COVID-19, directing the Department of Health Services (DHS) to use all the resources necessary to respond to and contain the outbreak. The governor signed an executive order that directs DHS to take all necessary and appropriate measures to prevent and respond to incidences of COVID-19. It allows the Department to purchase, store, or distribute appropriate medications, regardless of insurance or other health coverage, as needed to respond to the emergency. It also authorizes state funds to support local health departments with costs related to isolation and quarantine, as well as the use of the Wisconsin National Guard.

On March 24, 2020, Governor Tony Evers directed Department of Health Services Secretary Designee Andrea Palm to order a statewide "Safer at Home" order for residents to stay at home and only go out for essential services. Full details of the order can be found here.

Decisions about the implementation of community measures will be made by state and local officials based on CDC and DHS guidance, as well as the scope of the outbreak.

What you should know about COVID-19

Click here for a more complete list of Coronavirus guidelines.

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a virus strain that began to spread in people in December 2019.

  • COVID-19 is a new (novel) respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.
  • COVID-19 is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.
  • Formerly, this disease was referred to as "2019 novel coronavirus" or "2019-nCoV."

How is COVID-19 spread?
COVID-19 is typically spread to others when an infected person coughs or sneezes because the virus is found in droplets from the throat and nose. This is similar to how influenza is spread. When someone coughs or sneezes, other people near them can breathe in those droplets. The virus can also spread when an infected person touches and obect (such as a common surface) followed by another person touching it then their mouth, face, or eyes.


  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Body Aches
  • Shortness of Breath

Call ahead before you go to a doctor's office, urgent care, or emergency room. Inform them of your recent travel and your symptoms.

Other things you can do:

  • Don't panic.
  • Keep calm and wash your hands.
  • Stay away from sick people.

Please do not stock pile supplies such as sanitizer or cleansers as this could limit access by schools, daycare centers, and restaurants that may also purchase off the shelf. If you do have large quantities of such items, consider donation to a local organization.

COVID-19 Testing:
Clinicians should continue to work with their local and state health departments to coordinate testing through public health laboratories. In addition, COVID-19 diagnostic testing, authorized by the Food and Drug Administration under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), is becoming available in clinical laboratories. This additional testing capacity will allow clinicians to consider COVID-19 testing for a wider group of symptomatic patients.

Clinicians should use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether the patient should be tested. Most patients with confirmed COVID-19 have developed fever and/or symptoms of acute respiratory illness (e.g., cough, difficulty breathing).

Priorities for testing may include:

  • Hospitalized patients who have signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 in order to inform decisions related to infection control.
  • Other symptomatic individuals such as, older adults and individuals with chronic medical conditions and/or an immunocompromised state that may put them at higher risk for poor outcomes (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, receiving immunosuppressive medications, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease).
  • Any persons including healthcare personnel, who within 14 days of symptom onset had close contact with a suspect or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient, or who have a history of travel from affected geographic areas within 14 days of their symptom onset.

Mildly ill patients should be encouraged to stay home and contact their healthcare provider by phone for guidance about clinical management. Patients who have severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, should seek care immediately. Older patients and individuals who have underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised should contact their physician early in the course of even mild illness.

Common Questions/Concerns

  • Have you had contact with someone who was diagnosed with COVID-19? Click HERE for more information.
  • How do I clean and disinfect my home? Click HERE for more information.
  • Have you heard rumors about coronavirus? Click HERE for FEMA's Coronavirus Rumor Control.
  • Click HERE for information about pregnancy and breastfeeding during the COVID-19 outbreak.

COVID-19 Guidelines

Here are the most up-to-date guidelines from the CDC:

  • Health Care Providers
    • Recommendations for Active Symptom Monitoring for Employees in Health Care Settings where Community Transmission of COVID-19 is Occurring (March 20, 2020)
      • DHS recommends that all health care providers, including inpatient, outpatient, and residential care facilities, actively monitor staff for symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
      • Employers should ensure that staff involved in patient care are systematically evaluated for symptoms of respiratory infection, including temperature monitoring and query for specific symptoms before every shift.
      • Providers who develop fever or respiratory symptoms MUST be excluded from work for at least 7 days. If testing for COVID-19 is performed and is negative, staff may return to work after they have been afebrile (without symptoms) for 72 hours.
      • Health care providers who have been exposed to COVID-19 but are asymptomatic (without symptoms) do not need to excluded from work, but should self-monitor symptoms.
    • March 25, 2020 - Order of the Health Officer - Health Care Staffing Agencies and Hospice
      • Click HERE for press release.
  • Businesses/Employers
    • Involve your human resources department or employee health for further guidance or under the following circumstances: 
      • Employees who are well but have a family member at home who is sick with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor that they will not be attending work and quarantine themselves and any other household contacts. Family medical leave or other legal contracts may apply.
      • Individuals who are asymptomatic and have no knowledge of being exposed to someone with COVID-19 can attend work unless they have a possible travel exposure.
      • Public health officials will only contact employers about positive cases among their employees if there is a concern about compliance with isolation requirements or if there is a risk that other employees or others were exposed and needs the cooperation of the employer to locate those individuals. Public health does not routinely contact employers when the risk to other employees or others is low. 
      • If an employee shares that they have COVID-19 infection, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and not share anything about the employee’s illness with other staff members. 
  • Long-Term Care Facilities
    • ALL Long-Term Care Facilities in Washington and Ozaukee Counties are on Lock-Down as ordered by the Health Officer on March 21, 2020. Click HERE for the official order.

Meal Sites

Food/Meal Sites in Washington & Ozaukee Counties

Prevent the Spread of Illness

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Cover your cough or sneeze
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick

Situation Update

Continue to check these resources for up-to-date information on COVID-19.

COVID-19 and Stigma

Diseases can make anyone sick regardless of race, ethnicity, age.

People of Asian descent, including Chinese Americans, are not more likely to get COVID-19 than any other American. People who have traveled to places where many people have gotten sick with COVID-19 may be monitored by health officials to protect their health and the health of other people in the community. Older adults and people with chronic medical conditions may be at increased risk for severe disease.

COVID-19 - What Older Adults Should Know

Wash Your Hands

Keep Our Community Healthy