Barron County authorities are planning for the detection of COVID-19.

The County’s Health and Human Services Department’s COVID-19 response plan outlines four public health goals:

  • Limit the number of illnesses and deaths.
  • Preserve continuity of sessional public health functions
  • Minimize social disruption
  • Minimize economic losses. 

Members of the public can do their part in limiting the number of illnesses by staying home. 

For many, staying at home is now mandatory after Gov. Tony Evers issued a Safer at Home order on Tuesday that requires nonessential trips to cease. 

Wisconsin, which as of Monday night had 457 confirmed cases of COVID-19,  is one of at least 21 states to be under a form of lock down.

As of press time, Barron County has not reported a positive COVID-19 test. Health and Human Services has not released how many tests have been performed.

“With the shortage of tests supplies right now, we do not recommend those with mild illness seek medical care or testing but rather treat the symptoms at home: drink plenty of non alcoholic fluids, use acetaminophen (Tylenol) or other fever reducing medications and get plenty of rest.  If you do need medical care, please call ahead,” Public Health Program Manager Laura Sauve wrote in an email last week. 

“We are also asking people who are mildly ill to isolate themselves in their homes until they are fever free for at least 72 hours (3 days) and at least 7 days after their symptoms started,” Sauve wrote.

Marshfield Medical Center’s Brad Groseth stated that, “Dozens of samples from patients across the [Marshfield] health system have been sent to state and commercial labs in the state for testing.”

Groseth, who is chief administrative officer for MMC in Rice Lake, said that it typically takes several days to get results.


It is possible for a person to carry the virus without knowing it,  according to the World Health Organization, as the virus has an incubation period of about 5 days before showing any symptoms, which include fever, tiredness and a dry cough.

The WHO states that about 80% of people recover without the need for special treatment.

Just over 15% of those with COVID-19 become seriously ill and develop difficulty breathing, according to the WHO.

“Like most hospitals, we anticipate a surge of COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks,” Groseth wrote. 

Supply shortages

Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm told reporters last week that there were 2,500 Intensive Care Unit beds in the state. She did not state how many are currently occupied.

Some potential ICU patients would require a ventilator machine,  which breathes for a person through a tube inserted into the lungs

There is nationwide concern over a shortage of the machines.

Questions on Barron County’s quantity of ICU beds, ventilators, as well as personal protective equipment, were referred by local health officials to the North West Wisconsin Emergency Readiness Coalition, which referred questions to the state health department. As of press time, these have not been answered.

MMC’s Groseth did not answer questions on ICU beds or ventilators in his response.

Groseth did write, “We’ve recently postponed all elective and non-emergency procedures and clinical visits to help preserve supplies. While we have supplies now, we need to conserve what we have for the anticipated surge.”

Scare personal protective equipment includes masks, gloves, gowns, face shields and goggles.

MMC is asking local businesses, schools and other organizations that may have these supplies to consider donating their PPE to the Marshfield Clinic Health System to help protect healthcare workers. 

The County’s plan assumes that the number of available healthcare workers and first responders will be reduced by 25-35% due to the high risk of contracting the illness and for time off to take care of their families.

The County’s plan was finalized March 2, and was guided by Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Health Services. As the situation evolves, any guidance suggested by these two federal entities would supersede the County’s plan. 


Business or organizations able to donate PPE in any quantity, please contact Karen Piel at MCHS Foundation: or (715) 389-3868.

Marshfield Clinic Health System Foundation is collecting donations of sewn face masks. Rice Lake drop-off: Marketplace Foods,Tuesdays and Fridays, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

(Copyright © 2020 APG Media)

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