County Health Department releases updated COVID-19 reopening guidance: County at 'moderate' risk level

County Health Department releases updated COVID-19 reopening guidance: County at 'moderate' risk level

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RACINE COUNTY — The Central Racine County Health Department on Monday released updated recommendations for reopening the community, advising that the risk level within its jurisdiction is “moderate.”

“The coronavirus pandemic has not gone away,” said CRCHD Health Officer Margaret Gesner in a press statement. “We need the entire community to remain vigilant so that our case rate does not increase. If our COVID-19 cases surge, our hospitals may be overwhelmed, and we may experience an increase in preventable deaths. These are all unacceptable outcomes for our community. We must protect the most vulnerable amongst us.”

The CRCHD covers all of Racine County except for the City of Racine and villages of Wind Point and Elmwood Park.

The case rate over the past two weeks is used to determine the local risk level. According to the Health Department, as of Friday 3% of COVID-19 tests in its jurisdiction were positive, down from a high of 17% in early April.

The Health Department recommendations are based on community transmission and the associated risk to community members.

“At a ‘moderate’ risk level, the community should be prepared for additional cases, which means that most businesses should not be operating at 100%, with few exceptions,” the release said.

At the moderate risk level, locals are recommended to practice physical distancing and wear face masks 100% of the time when they are out shopping, or dealing with co-workers or customers while at work.

The Health Department recommends that social gatherings at households, as well as weddings, funerals and religious ceremonies, be at 50% of the capacity of the gathering space or 50 or fewer people, whichever number is lower.

Dining in a restaurant is OK, but indoor diners should wear face coverings when not eating or drinking and physically distance themselves from diners not from their household.

Travel to high-risk areas outside of Racine County is not recommended, and a 14-day quarantine is advised after air travel.

Child care, shopping and recreation

Under the moderate risk level, K-12 students can return to in-person classes but should be socially distanced. Some students with health concerns may need to participate virtually.

Face coverings for students and teachers also are recommended, to the extent possible. Busing is allowed under the moderate risk level, but students must have assigned seats, wear masks and be distanced to the extent possible.

Child care centers are recommended to open at 75% capacity and summer camps can open with restrictions.

Offices, retail establishments, bars and restaurants, as well as salons, tattoo parlors and spas are recommended to be open at 50% capacity, with daily screening of staff for symptoms, physical distancing and face coverings.

Campgrounds can open at 75% capacity. Indoor places of worship are recommended to open at 25% of capacity.

Pools and recreational swimming areas, including beaches and ponds, should operate at 50% of capacity with physical distancing and masks for workers.

Both indoor and outdoor mass gatherings at large venues are not recommended under the moderate risk level.

“As we continue to learn more about disease transmission in various settings and the susceptibility of various populations, recommendations in this document will continue to change,” Gesner said in the press release. “Information in this document is intended to help mitigate risk, but risk cannot be entirely eliminated even with mitigation steps in place. While opening to any degree may have benefits, opening also carries with it the potential for unintentional spread of disease.”

Case numbers

According to figures released Monday, the county had had 2,168 confirmed cases, and currently has 333 probable cases. There have been 23,869 negative tests and 61 deaths.

The overall positive test rate is 8.3%, but the 14-day moving average is 3%. The 14-day average in early May was 20%.

General guidelines

With case rates increasing rapidly in states that returned to public life hastily, the Health Department recommends that everyone follow the below guidelines:

  • Use nonmedical face covering
  • Implement school and worksite screening for symptoms of COVID-19
  • Incorporate engineering controls such as physical barriers where possible
  • Reconfigure space to enable people to be located apart (ideally, at least 6 feet)
  • Clean and disinfect according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance
  • Post signs to promote physical distancing and use of face coverings
  • Ensure people with symptoms of COVID-19 stay home and call their health care provider
  • Wash hands frequently; cover your cough, avoid touching your face; disinfect frequently touched objects
  • Follow Central Racine County Health Department isolation and quarantine orders.
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