On Wednesday, Sept. 9, the Sawyer County Health Department reported the county’s first death related to COVID-19.

The health department said the individual, whose name was not released, suffered from “underlying health conditions but died from complications associated with the virus (novel coronavirus).”

Sawyer County Public Health Officer Julia Lyons confirmed that COVID-19 was a “contributing factor to the death,” but gave no identifying information except to say the person who died was an “older person.”

“Had the person not had COVID-19, the person would likely be alive today,” she said. 

Lyons said health risks with COVID-19 increase when there are other health conditions or “co-morbidities” an individual is experiencing.  

In a Sept. 9 press release, Lyons wrote, “Our condolences and prayers are with the family. This is a sad reminder of how COVID-19 can impact those at high risk for severe symptoms. It is important that we all do our part to slow the spread of this virus by practicing social distancing, wearing a face coverings and following other CDC guidelines.”


Positive case trend?

In the past week Sawyer County has seen a noticeable upward tick of new positive cases. This comes after two consecutive weeks of fewer new COVID-19 cases being reported than the previous weeks. 

As of Tuesday morning, Sept. 15, a total of 185 positive cases had been reported in the county — 19 more than the 166 reported a week earlier on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

Lyons said most of the new positive cases were of those already in quarantine. A high percentage of the new cases are from a large family where everyone in the family tested positive. The other positives are mostly couples, husband and wife, or individuals. 

“Most of them were in quarantine before they became positive,” Lyons said. “That is a great thing because when they got sick they weren’t spreading it to anyone because they were already in quarantine. We don’t have any who went to any large events, or anywhere, during their infectious period.”

Because most of those new positive cases had been in quarantine, Lyons is cautiously optimistic that the county is not going to see significant spread.


Other numbers

As of Tuesday, Sept. 15, of the 185 positive cases, 163 had recovered, 21 are still active and eight had been hospitalized. The county remains at one COVID-19 death.

County public health contact tracers are monitoring 48 individuals.  

And 4,192 persons have tested negative; some have been tested more than once.


School going well

Lyons said there had been no new positive cases from any the county schools. The Hayward schools opened Sept. 1 with a blend of in-person and virtual learning; the Winter schools resumed in-person learning last week, and LCO students will return to the classroom next week. 

“Schools are going well,” she said. “We haven’t tracked any cases out of the schools, and that’s not what I’m hearing is happening at other schools (outside the county). I’m hearing that masking is going very well, so I’m feeling good about that.”

Lyons was encouraged that the Hayward School Board had voted Monday night to continue its face mask requirement until Nov. 3. 

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