Up by nearly 40 cases

 A graphic emailed Monday, Aug. 10, 2020, by the Barron County Department of Health and Human Services, shows 37 new cases of COVID-19 in the county in the previous week. Photo contributed

Barron County has now confirmed 297 individual cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak of the pandemic last winter, according to latest figures released by the Barron County Department of Health and Human Services.

The increase comes at a time school districts throughout the county are making plans to reopen for fall classes.

At a meeting Monday, Aug. 10, 2020, the Barron Area School Board Policy, Personnel and Negotiations Committee reviewed a list of COVID-19 reopening recommendations.

The policy is following a three-track approach developed by Barron and other county school districts in cooperation with DHHS.

The plan calls for school operations to resume on the basis of three possible arrangements – a normal school routine, a schedule that includes some distance learning along with in-person classes, and online learning at home for students whose parents decide not to send them to school.

In the meantime, the Prairie Farm School District has developed a flow chart that outlines how school officials will deal with any COVID-19 cases that may develop after the start of the school year.

Tom Rich, Prairie Farm school district administrator, said the district reopening plan “is just like the other Barron County schools.

“Parents do have the option to request online learning,” he added. “We have several modifications for hallways, recess, entering the building, buses, lunchrooms, classrooms, etc.”

Statewide developments

In a press release issued Monday afternoon, Aug. 10, Gov. Tony Evers noted the state’s COVID-19-related death toll had surpassed the 1,000 mark since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Evers noted that the death rate had spiraled upward from an average of two per day on July 9, to eight per day a month later.

On Tuesday, Aug. 11, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development reported there were 14,119 initial unemployment applications filed the week ending Aug. 8, somewhat down from 19,108 initial applications the week before.

In total, the state recorded 179,169 weekly unemployment claims in the week ending Aug. 8.

It’s the first full week of unemployment figures in Wisconsin since the federally-financed $600 weekly unemployment benefit expired July 25, the DWD reported.

National Guard funding

Early last week, United Press International reported that National Guard troops serving coronavirus relief missions throughout the country will have their deployments extended through the end of the year.

The National Guard has worked in Barron County on three occasions since early May, helping local health care providers conduct testing for the presence of the coronavirus, once at Turtle Lake, and twice at Cumberland-based Seneca Foods.

But the National Guard deployment extension does not come with full funding 42 U.S. governors asked for, UPI reported Aug. 3.

The White House announced that day that the federal government would only fully fund National Guard deployments to Florida and Texas.

Most other states are scheduled to have their federal funding terminated by Friday, Aug. 21. The federal government intends to fund 75 percent of assistance activities through the end of the year in Wisconsin and other states. The states will have to pick up the other 25 percent of costs, UPI reported.