New Dane County public health order prohibits indoor gatherings

“We are hopeful that with the community’s cooperation, we can bring our numbers down and avoid more hospitalizations and deaths,” Director of Public Health says

· Nov 17, 2020 Tweet

Daniel Yun/The Badger Herald

Public Health Madison and Dane County issued an emergency public health order prohibiting all indoor gatherings of any size and limiting outdoor gatherings to 10 people, with physical distancing.

Executive order #10 will go into effect on Nov. 18 as a result of the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Dane County, according to the City of Madison press release. Director of Public Health Madison and Dane County Janel Heinrich said the action was necessary to stop the spread.

“This virus does not spread on its own,” Henrich said in the release. “We spread it. Every gathering — no matter the size — is an opportunity for disease spread and prolongs the pandemic.”

In-person activities that are considered mass gatherings include games, sports, competitions, group exercise classes, meetings, trainings, movies, events and conferences, according to the press release.

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All indoor mass gatherings of people who do not live together are prohibited. The previous limit for gatherings was 10 indoors and 25 outdoors, with physical distancing.

“We are hopeful that with the community’s cooperation, we can bring our numbers down and avoid more hospitalizations and deaths,” Heinrich said in the press release.

This order will be in effect until Dec. 16. It will continue to enforce face coverings and business capacity limits at 50% along with other provisions, according to the press release.

County Executive Joe Parisi said in the press release these new orders are designed to call attention to where the virus is spreading the most in order to quickly stop its spread through the community.

“Our hospitals are overflowing, our doctors and nurses are running ragged and everywhere we turn, there is sickness, creating a challenge like none other we have ever seen,” Parisi said in the press release.

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According to the release, Dane County’s 7-day average is 433 cases daily — more than double the number of cases from a month ago.

From Oct. 27 through Nov. 9, 31% of people with COVID-19 reported close contact with non-household cases. Almost a quarter of people who tested positive attended a gathering or party in the past two weeks, according to data compiled by the City of Madison.

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said this order will remain prevalent through the upcoming holiday weekend.

“We cannot pretend that this is going to be a normal Thanksgiving,” Rhodes-Conway said. “We know that many of the people we want to spend time with are very vulnerable to the virus.”

As of Nov. 17, there are 174 COVID-19 hospitalizations in Dane County, including 48 in the ICU. Hospitals in the southern region are experiencing shortages or nearing capacity, according to the press release. The county and city may issue a fine of up to $1,000 for violations of the health order including court costs.

The Badger Herald reached out to the University of Wisconsin about how this order would affect their campus operations, but received no response.


This article was published Nov 17, 2020 at 6:02 pm and last updated Nov 19, 2020 at 5:42 pm


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