Stay seated and keep your distance when at Dane County restaurants; Thursday afternoon Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) issued order #6, which keeps Dane County in Phase 2. This order went into effect at 10 p.m. on June 25. The order limits private gatherings and adjusts language regarding capacity limits for bars and restaurants. All other parts of the Phase 2 order have carried over to this new order.
“This new order has changes that target the issues we are hearing about in contact tracing interviews. We make this change after carefully studying our steep case trajectory and learning more about the circumstances surrounding each case from our contact tracers,” said Janel Heinrich, Director of PHMDC.
The only items that have changed with this order include:
• Bars and restaurants stay at 50% capacity but customers are required to use seating at all times. Seating must be physically distanced (6 feet) from other parties. Parties can only be seated with members of their own household.
• No standing service (i.e., moving to the restroom is fine but patrons must be seated during their visit)
• Private gatherings are limited to 10 or fewer people.
“In contact tracing interviews, gatherings among family and friends and socializing at bars have been identified often. We know they are a major driver of this surge in cases, and this is why we are taking this targeted approach and not moving entirely to a previous phase,” said Heinrich.
As reported June 25, 50% of the 279 new cases seen in the past few days are among people 20-29, many of whom live on or near the UW-Madison campus. While PHMDC is seeing this issue downtown Madison, the department is also seeing similar trends throughout the county, with 40% of cases from the past few days living outside of Madison.
In addition to this new order, PHMDC will step up enforcement activity. In contact tracing interviews, it is clear some businesses are not following the criteria required in PHMDC orders.
“There are a small number of businesses that are ignoring public health orders, and by doing so they continue to put their workers, customers, and the community at risk. This has got to stop,” said City of Madison Mayor Rhodes-Conway. “While we are having trouble with a few businesses, I want to acknowledge that we have heard from many businesses that are following the rules and are working closely with Public Health staff to meet the requirements.”
PHMDC anticipates remaining in Phase 2 for at least one month. Forward Dane metrics were updated on Monday. Based on the information collected between June 13-26, Dane County has not met the metrics in three areas: number of cases per day, percent of people who knew where they could have contracted the virus, and percent of cases contacted within 24 hours of being tested.
“We’re all tired of dealing with COVID-19 but the fact is it is real, it is still here and it is spreading rapidly throughout our community. Please take this seriously – maintain physical distance and wear a mask. We all need to do our part in order to keep people safe,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.
As PHMDC reported June 25, in the past five days, 279 people in Dane County have tested positive for COVID-19, which brings the 7-day case average to 47 cases per day. The 7-day average from mid-June was 17 cases per day. Increased testing does not fully account for this upward trend in cases.
PHMDC recommends the following to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
• Stay home if sick or feel off. A number of new cases reported going out while symptomatic.
• Stay home if there is no need to go out. Working from home, virtual gatherings, and using curbside or delivery ordering are still the safest and best options to protect yourself and others.
• Wear a mask if going out. This is a simple, effective way to help reduce risk.
• Protect employees and customers. Follow public health requirements and recommendations.
• Assume being in contact with COVID-19 if going out. Currently, just over a third of cases didn’t know where they could’ve gotten COVID-19. Watch for symptoms like fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. If these symptoms are present, call a doctor to be tested or visit the community test site.