The Langlade County Health Department has received notification that an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 was at Wagner Oil/Shell Office located at 709 S. Superior St. in Langlade County during the infectious period even though the person was not displaying any symptoms during this time.
The news came as the county reported an additional positive case, bringing the total to 44 as of Thursday at 3 p.m.
Thirty people are in isolation, 12 released from isolation and one is hospitalized. There has been one death.
“Wagner Oil/Shell has been in full cooperation with the Langlade County Health Department regarding the exposure and investigation,” Meghan Williams, Langlade County health officer, said. “We are working to determine how the individual may have become infected and are contacting others with whom the person with the positive results had close contact.”
Wagner Oil/Shell was closed Thursday for additional cleaning.
Those who were at Wagner Oil/Shell during the following dates/times may have been exposed to COVID- 19:
—Monday July 27 between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. or 11 a.m. to noon.
—Tuesday July 28, between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. or 11 a.m. to noon.
“Once a person tests positive for COVID-19 contact tracing begins. When it is not possible to specifically identify contacts from an exposure during which adequate physical distancing of at least six feet was not maintained, a press release will be issued to allow the public to better know their potential exposure risk,” Williams said. “Individuals who were at Wagner Oil/Shell and did not practice physical distancing during the listed times are asked to stay home as much as possible and monitor for symptoms for 14 days.”
Symptoms may include fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, headache, fatigue, body and muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of smell, and loss of taste.
In the event that symptoms do develop, please contact your health care provider for testing. Individuals in need of additional guidance can complete the WI COVID-19 Screening Tool at no cost and a trained medical professional will follow up with you to review your results and answer questions,” Williams said. “If you were possibly exposed and still have further questions, you can contact the Langlade County Health Department at 715-627-6250.”
Langlade County Health Department is encouraging the public to monitor COVID-19 “Public Notifications” webpage which identifies potential exposure locations at https://www.co.langlade.wi.us/departments/health-department/general/public-notifications/ This page will be updated with places identified in Langlade County through investigation, in which an exposure to COVID-19 may have occurred.
The news comes amidst a surge in COVID cases in Langlade County, which have more than doubled in just the last week. The first case was reported here on May 20.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that rural counties in northern Wisconsin that had largely been immune from the coronavirus pandemic are now seeing a surge in cases, with Iron County now having the state's highest rate of active confirmed COVID-19 infections.
The number of confirmed infections in Iron County was in the single digits for four months before spiking in July, with 75 total cases. Of those, 68 are of residents and seven are of nonresidents. The cases are spread throughout the county. Thirty-eight people have recovered, three have been hospitalized and one has died, Wisconsin Public Radio reported Thursday.
Zona Wick, the former county health officer who has been rehired as a public health nurse during the crisis, said the spike is a result of "quarantine fatigue." That led to people casting aside social distancing for graduation parties, Fourth of July gatherings and other social events where the disease spread, Wick said.
The low numbers "lulled people into complacency, into saying, 'Hey, things are safe here. It's just our family. It's just our friends. It's just people we know.' … And the virus doesn't care," Wick said.
Only four of Wisconsin's 72 counties showed more active cases than recovered ones, according to the state Department of Health Services. Those were Iron, Juneau, Langlade and Menominee counties. Two others, Taylor and Washburn counties, had the same number of active and recovered cases. All six are rural counties.
On Wednesday, Trempealeau County public health nurse Kaila Baer said in a statement that the western Wisconsin county was "on the edge of moving to severe risk." It had the seventh-highest case rate in Wisconsin per 100,000 people, Baer said.
Wisconsin has had more than 52,000 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus and 919 deaths as of Thursday. That death count is the 28th highest in the country overall and the 35th highest per capita at nearly 16 deaths per 100,000 people. Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has gone up by 90, an increase of more than 11%.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.