UW Oshkosh’s COVID cases down, county’s up

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Sophia Voight, Co-News Editor

Gov. Tony Evers issued an emergency order Tuesday limiting public gatherings to combat the “deadly, uncontrolled and exponentially growing spike in cases of COVID-19” in Wisconsin.

Effective 8 a.m. Oct. 8, public gatherings will be limited to 25% of a room or building’s total capacity. Wisconsin has 2,346 active cases as of Tuesday with the 18-24 age group having the most number of confirmed cases.

The Oshkosh-Neenah area is listed as the worst outbreak area in the nation, according to the New York Times as of Tuesday. Additionally, Winnebago County has a 14.9% positivity rate for the past two weeks, with 70 new positive cases on Tuesday.

“The number of new cases continues to accelerate upwards and has exceeded the ability of testing and case investigation to control the spread of illness,” according to the Winnebago County Health Department or WCHD.

The Sunnyview Expo Center in Oshkosh is currently performing over 750 COVID-19 tests a day, according to WCHD weekly COVID-19 data summary.

COVID-19 hospitalizations are also at the highest level to date in the Fox Valley region, according to the WCHD report

Fox Valley area hospitals had 112 COVID-19 hospitalizations in September, according to WCHD, with hospitals pushing 90% capacity.

WCHD warns that if the community doesn’t change its behavior soon, hospitals will be overwhelmed in the next several weeks.

COVID-19 cases at UWO have steadily trended downward in the past two weeks. UWO reached its lowest positivity rate in four weeks at 2.2% on Oct. 5. In fact, the university had 10 positive cases out of 459 on Monday, with 100 active cases on campus.

In a campus wide email on Oct. 2, Chancellor Andrew Leavvitt said eliminating face-to-face dining, wearing a mask, physical distancing and washing hands helped control the spread of Covid-19 on campus.

Leavitt asked students to stay home unless for work, school or necessities to help stop the spread in the community as well.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to study UWO antigen COVID-19 testing throughout October. They will study how reliable antigen testing is to monitor spread of COVID-19 among UW Oshkosh students.

“If the CDC can validate the protocol we are following here at UW Oshkosh with scaled up use of the antigen test as part of our Titans Return Plan, we can serve as a model for surveilling students on other campuses,” Risk Manager Kimberly Langolf said.

WCHD recommends that people “just stay home” and avoid any unnecessary travel that puts you in contact with people you don’t live with.

The WCHD report said the virus is spreading rapidly because many people don’t know they are infected and others are knowingly breaking quarantine and spreading it to people.

“Assume that every public place you are in has a risk of exposure to you,” the report stated.

UWO students and employees who have been exposed to the virus or are experiencing symptoms can get tested at Albee Hall by appointment through the MyPrevea app. Appointments are available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Sunnyview Expo Center in Oshkosh is also running a regional COVID-19 testing site available to any Wisconsin resident above the age of 5.