By Luke Klink

Despite having no confirmed COVID-19 cases reported in Rusk County as of this week Tuesday, there has been one probable case.

This “probable case” was made public this week by Rusk County Public Health Officer Dawn Brost. She did not identify the individual or where the person lives.

“[The] resident was not tested but had been a close contact to a confirmed case from a different county,” Brost said. “I am not releasing any information regarding the person because we live in such a small community that any little detail could lead to that person’s identification.”

The individual was placed on quarantine for 14 days at home, according to Brost. The quarantine has been completed and symptoms have significantly improved, she said.

“It is unknown whether the resident actually had COVID-19,” Brost said. “[The individual] did have mild symptoms, typical of a cold. The person was fully cooperative with the voluntary quarantine.

In this case, Brost cited “probable” as an illness with clinically compatible symptoms of COVID-19 infection, with no other known set of causes for the clinical illness, for whom COVID-19 laboratory testing has not been done, and who is epidemiologically linked to a confirmed case. Epidemiologically linked is defined as close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case or a member of a cluster of illnesses where at least one confirmed case has been diagnosed, in the 14 days before onset of symptoms.

The individual has been released from quarantine, according to Brost.

“I can say that the person self-quarantined on their own before the health department called to follow-up on the case,” Brost said. “No other county residents were exposed. The person was very responsible in their actions and cooperated fully with quarantine recommendation dates as instructed by the health department.”

By Tuesday afternoon, there have been 37 COVID-19 tests for county residents with no confirmed cases. These tests have resulted in 28 negative results and nine pending.

As of Monday, Wisconsin COVID-19 test result data provided by the state Department of Health Services show 16 deaths statewide from the illness (up from 14 the previous day) with 1,351 confirmed cases (up from 1,221 the previous day) and 17,375 negative test results. The number of people with negative rest results now reflects only state residents and excludes duplicate lab results.

There is the one probable case and one contact investigation pending, Brost said.

Contact investigations mean someone was exposed to a confirmed case that was lab tested and is now in quarantine for 14 days.

“If that person develops symptoms, they are either lab tested or considered probable and then have other isolation recommendations set in place. There are no positive cases yet,” Brost said.

Neighboring Barron, Washburn, Sawyer, Price and Taylor counties have no reported cases. Chippewa County is the only adjacent county with a confirmed case, having four coronavirus illnesses.

People with confirmed infections have a range of symptoms, from little to no symptoms to people being severely sick and dying. Symptoms may include fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday sent a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requesting that the president issue a major disaster declaration for the entire state of Wisconsin, as a result the COVID-19 pandemic. The request covers all 72 counties and the state’s federally recognized tribes.

“The response to this virus has required a tremendous response from the state and all of its communities that far exceeds the resources currently available to us,” Gov. Evers said. “By seeking this declaration, we are hopeful the state will be able to access critical programs that are needed to deal with the pandemic now, and with the recovery that will be taking place down the road.”

Not everyone with COVID-19 has all of these symptoms. For many, symptoms are mild, with no fever. It is important to know that you can still spread (transmit) the virus to others even if you have mild or no symptoms.

People experiencing signs and symptoms of COVID-19 should call their health care provider. People are safer at home, the DHS website states.

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting changes to peoples’ lifestyles, can make anyone anxious or even depressed. Do not hesitate to ask for help if feeling overwhelmed. Call 800-985-5990 to speak to a trained crisis counselor or text TalkWithUS to 66747. While people may not be able to be in the same room with their support system, they can still call or video chat with them.

Younger people, and particularly those who are 18 to 30 years old, aren’t immune to COVID-19. Anyone can contract COVID-19.

DHS officials tell the public to stay home if possible and especially if sick, wash your hands frequently and thoroughly and practice social distancing by keeping six feet between people and avoiding direct physical contact.