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A second Bayfield County resident has died of COVID-19 following a week of record-high new cases in Bayfield County. bringing the Bay Area to five total deaths associated with the pandemic.

The Bayfield County Health Department released no details about the patient’s age, hometown or other circumstances.

The death was announced Tuesday, one day after Ashland and Bayfield county health officers issued an emergency advisory “strongly discouraging non-essential events or gatherings” as local and regional cases continued to surge.

That advisory came as courts ruled that a statewide restriction on restaurant, bar and other public places to 25% of capacity was not constitutional.

“Contact tracing of positive cases reveal (sic) infection spread in numerous social settings and public as well as private gatherings,” the advisory said. “Family get-togethers, birthday parties, sleepovers as well as memorials and weddings have all resulted in the spread of COVID-19. In spite of efforts to make a bar or restaurant safe, infections are spread whenever people gather to eat or drink indoors.”

As of Tuesday, more than 200,000 Wisconsin residents had been diagnosed with the virus and almost 1,800 had died.

“We are saddened by the loss of one of our community members and our prayers are with the patient’s family and friends,” Sara Wartman, health officer for Bayfield County, said in a prepared statement about the latest local death. 

The state Department of Health Services reported that Bayfield County has very high case activity and the trend in cases is rising sharply. Both Ashland and Bayfield counties remained relative safe spots in the first several months of the pandemic, with just a handful of local confirmed cases, before seeing caseloads skyrocket in recent weeks.

“Many residents are exposing others without realizing they are putting others at elevated risk” Wartman said. “There are simple measures everyone can take to protect themselves and others. The more things we can do to lower our risk of exposure, the quicker the transmission rate will slow and the better off our communities will be.”

Health officials again urged everyone to follow best practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and prevention:  

  • Keep gatherings to a minimum
  • Limit trips to just the essentials
  • Frequently and thoroughly wash hands
  • Stay home when sick or if others in your household are sick
  • Practice physical distancing at school, at work, and at any family functions
  • Wear a face covering/mask in public and around people outside of your household

(Copyright © 2021 APG Media)

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