Welcome to the first Winnebago County Health Department (WCHD) local COVID-19 Situation Update. The primary intent of these updates is to provide information for the community to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in Winnebago County should we see it in this area. Each week we will highlight local information and provide links to the most recent and credible information available on this topic.  


The current risk of COVID-19 in Winnebago County and Wisconsin is LOW. The primary concern for this area right now is the spread of flu. Many flu prevention practices also pertain to COVID-19 preparedness. We’d like to highlight preparedness in this first update and encourage you to develop or review your own plans, both personal and business operation plans. If you become sick or must quarantine (stay home due to exposure to an infected person), it’s important to have a plan that considers how you would best manage a loss of time at work (income), loss of staffing in your business, temporary closure of school or daycare, suspension of group activities, etc.


We intend to continue weekly situation updates for COVID-19 as long as necessary. These updates are meant to be shared widely within the Winnebago County community. All COVID-19 Situation Updates will also be on the WCHD website, and individuals may subscribe to receive them directly from the Winnebago County Health Department.




The Winnebago County Health Department (WCHD), Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are closely monitoring an outbreak caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19) that originated in Wuhan, China. This situation is rapidly evolving, and the Winnebago County Health Department is working closely with local and state partners to implement plans that best protect the health of our community.


On February 5, 2020, Wisconsin confirmed its first case of COVID-19 in Dane County. On February 28, 2020, CDC confirmed that the case no longer has COVID-19 and is no longer under isolation. On March 9, 2020, a case was confirmed in Pierce County, and the individual is currently in isolation. On March 10, 2020, a case was reported in Dane County, and the individual is in isolation.


There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Winnebago County.


The CDC criteria for persons under investigation (PUI) changed last week and most likely will be changing in the coming week ahead. For this reason, there has been a marked increase in the total number of people tested in Wisconsin. Moving forward, when laboratory testing for COVID-19 becomes widely available through commercial labs, only positive and negative tests will be reported.


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Winnebago County Health Department Activities


In response to COVID-19, WCHD has been working with community partners in a variety of settings to answer questions and offer assistance to keep our community as healthy as possible during this time. Our goal is to protect the community and minimize transmission of COVID-19.


Our staff is proactive in preparedness planning, and we work closely with businesses, schools, law enforcement, local municipalities and other community partners to offer resources on pandemic planning, personal protective equipment (PPE) and many other strategic response scenarios both locally and throughout the region. Our preparedness planning is further strengthened with the support of our state and national public health organizations. 


One of our major accomplishments in preparedness planning for COVID-19 was a tabletop review and exercise done in collaboration with the Fox Valley Healthcare Emergency Readiness Coalition. At this event, healthcare systems, clinics and local health departments from around the area joined together to learn and practice scenarios.


WCHD staff also participates in weekly teleconferences with the CDC and DHS as well as “just-in-time” webinars when there is new guidance. We work with DHS to monitor health of travelers, and our staff provides guidance to local healthcare systems.


How to Prepare for COVID-19


There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection, and there is currently no specific treatment. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

Take these steps to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:


  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating and after going to the bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • If you do not have soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Cough or sneeze into an elbow if no tissue is available. Wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household disinfectant cleaning spray or wipe.


Visit the Winnebago County Health Department’s website for resources specific to the general public, healthcare providers, businesses, community organizations, schools and first responders.