The Latest: 52 positive cases tied to Wisconsin election
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Latest on the coronavirus outbreak in Wisconsin (all times local):
More than 50 people who voted in person or worked the polls during Wisconsin’s election earlier this month have tested positive for COVID-19 so far.
The state Department of Health Services reported the latest figures on Tuesday, three weeks after the April 7 presidential primary and spring election that drew widespread concern because of voters waiting in long lines to cast ballots in Milwaukee. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers tried to move to a mail-order election but was blocked by the Republican Legislature and conservative controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Evers and others had warned that holding the election would cause a spike in coronavirus cases.
Several of the 52 people who have tested positive and were at the polls also reported other possible exposures, said Wisconsin Emergency Management spokesman Andrew Beckett. Because of those other possible exposures, it’s unclear whether the person contracted the virus due to being at the polls.
After next week the state will no longer ask people who test positive for the virus whether they were at the polls in the April election because of how much time has passed, said Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk.
“We’re getting to the point where the door will be closing on those,” she said.
Most of the positive cases were in Milwaukee County. The city’s health commissioner has said the data was being analyzed and an update was expected as soon as Friday.
More than 500 workers and their close contacts at meatpacking plants in and around Green Bay have tested positive for the coronavirus, based on the latest figures released Tuesday by the Brown County Health Department.
The Green Bay area has been a hot spot for COVID-19 cases due to spread among workers at the meatpacking plants and their close contacts.
There were 255 employees of JBS Packerland who tested positive, and another 79 positive cases among people connected to the workers. That plant closed on Sunday. There were 145 workers who tested positive at American Foods Group, with another seven positive cases among people linked to the employees. And there were another 23 cases among workers at Salm Partners, a sausage maker in Denmark, about 20 miles away.
Salm Brothers employs about 450 people, JBS employs about 1,200 and about 1,500 work at American Foods.
Brown County registered its third death from the virus on Tuesday and had more than 900 confirmed cases countywide. Statewide, the total number of positive cases neared 6,300 and 300 people have died. More than half of the deaths, 174, have been in Milwaukee County.
The Wisconsin Democratic Party will hold a virtual state convention on June 12, scrapping its original plans to gather at a water park in Wisconsin Dells for its annual gathering.
The Democratic National Committee still plans to meet in person in Milwaukee for the national convention, which was pushed back a month until the week of August 17 due to the coronavirus.
The state party convention will have a more limited agenda, including fewer speeches, with the move to virtual only. Democrats canceled plans to debate and vote on its platform and resolutions, caucus meetings and changes to the party’s constitution.
The Wisconsin Republican Party last week announced it was delaying its state convention from mid-May to mid-July. That meeting is still scheduled to happen in person in Green Bay.
Thirty-four Wisconsin state parks and recreational areas closed for three weeks will be able to reopen Friday as temperatures increase across the state and cases of coronavirus level off, Gov. Tony Evers announced Tuesday.
Evers ordered the closure of 40 state parks and recreational areas on April 10, citing overcrowding that could hasten the spread of COVID-19, mounting trash, dwindling cleaning supplies and vandalism. Maintaining the parks has been more difficult after Evers waived entrance fees and closed park offices, visitor centers and bathrooms.
Annual park passes will now be required and won’t be for sale at the parks.
The parks will open with new conditions, including reduced hours and closed on Wednesdays for maintenance.
The closures included some of the state’s most popular hiking and camping destinations, all in southern and southeastern Wisconsin nearest to the most populated cities of Madison and Milwaukee. Parks in the rest of the state have remained open. Popular parks that will reopen include Devil’s Lake, Governor Dodge and Kettle Moraine.
Under Evers’ order Tuesday, all but four of the closed parks will reopen on Friday. Natural areas that will remain closed are Gibraltar Rock; Pewit’s Nest; Parfrey’s Glen; and Dells of The Wisconsin River.