Douglas County

Douglas County had its first confirmed case of COVID-19 and St. Croix County added a second when the count came in Friday afternoon.

Gov. Tony Evers also warned Friday that more people in Wisconsin will die of the coronavirus, and health officials said there are not enough ICU hospital beds, testing equipment or medical supplies to deal with the expected surge in patients.

"Things will get worse before they get better," Evers said on a conference call. "The fight against COVID-19 will not be easy."

Wisconsin logged its third death on Friday, after the first two were announced on Thursday. The deaths were a 66-year-old man in Milwaukee; a man in his 50s in Fond du Lac County; and a man in his 90s in Ozaukee County.

"Sadly these deaths will not be our only deaths, we will see more," said Andrea Palm, secretary of the state Department of Health Services.

There were 206 confirmed cases in 29 counties in Wisconsin, up from 155 in 21 counties on Thursday. Palm said it was expected to spread to all 72 counties.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.

Palm urged people to cancel all non-essential appointments, prepare for the health care system to be stressed and called for people to come together to check on neighbors, friends and the vulnerable to make sure they are protected.

"We will continue to ask more of you in the days and weeks ahead," Palm said. She also said that Wisconsin had 2,500 ICU hospital beds and 620 ventilators but those would not be enough for an expected surge. She didn't say how short the state might be, but said all options were being explored to get what is needed.

Evers said he believed Wisconsin could avoid being ordered to shelter in place as is being done in other parts of the country. That said, he encouraged people to stay home.

SSM Health said in a statement Friday that one of its doctors tested positive for the virus. The doctor was not showing symptoms during their last encounters with patients, but as symptoms developed the doctor self-quarantined and was tested, SSM Health said.

The health system said it is working with the local health departments to identify and contact all staff and patients who may have come into contact with the doctor.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported Friday that a birth suites nurse at St. Mary's Hospital in Madison said she was exposed to another worker at the hospital who later tested positive. SSM Health operates the hospital, but it wasn't immediately clear if the doctor who tested positive was the same one the nurse said she had contact with.

Nurse Jennifer Aumanstal said she is allowed to work as long as she wears a surgical mask and remains asymptomatic.

Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa has said one of its doctors tested positive, resulting in testing of about 200 patients and staff. A doctor who works in the maximum-security Waupun Correctional Institution has also tested positive.

Also on Friday, the mayors of Green Bay, Appleton and Neenah joined together to object to holding the April 7 spring election and presidential primary, given concerns about spreading the virus. The mayors — two Republicans and one Democrat — said the election should be delayed so it could be conducted by mail-in ballot only.

Moving ahead with the election without any changes is a "logistical train wreck and a public health travesty," said Democratic Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich.

Evers and legislative leaders have said they plan to proceed as scheduled, even though several other states delayed their spring elections.

"Moving this date is not going to solve the problem," Evers said. "We could move it to June, it could be worse in June. It could be worse in May."

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The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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