Wisconsin health experts say public at very low risk after first confirmed coronavirus case

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT)–One Wisconsin resident is in isolation for a confirmed case of the coronavirus, which is the first in the state. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Wisconsin is the sixth state to report at least one confirmed case but there are dozens of possible cases being investigated nationwide.

The Dane County resident recently traveled to mainland China within the last two weeks and came in contact with known cases. They immediately went from the airport to the emergency room at the UW Hospital and Clinics, according to the Dane County Public Health Department.

The adult never required hospitalization for their symptoms. They are still in isolation at their home and will remain there until testing shows they no longer have coronavirus.

During a press conference, state health officials reiterated that the risk of getting sick remains very low. However, multiple agencies are working to prevent possible transmission to others who may have cared for the patient.

“All potential contacts and close contacts of this individual have been informed,” said Jeanne Ayers, State Health Officer and Administrator of the DHS Division of Public Health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously reported 11 confirmed cases across the country. Wisconsin would make 12.

The Wisconsin Department of Health said seven other potential cases came back negative, while the results of two others are pending.

“We expect that those test results will come back within the next day or two,” said Tom Haupt, Respiratory Disease Epidemiologist with the Wisconsin Division of Public Health.

Regardless of this confirmed case, Mayo Clinic Health System said its protocol will not change.

“We treat this like other diseases that we’ve prepared for like Ebola or things like that,” said Dr. Joseph Krien, regional chair of clinical practice for Mayo Clinic Health System.

Krien said they will continue to follow guidelines recommended by the CDC and specialists within Mayo Clinic. That includes assessing symptoms, asking patients questions about their exposure to confirmed cases or any recent travel to China.

“We would then have them in appropriate respiratory isolation and they would have a mask on as well,” Krien said.

With many precautions in place, health experts say the risk of getting sick for the general public remains very low. Plus, the spread can be limited with the proper precautions. That means you should cover your coughs and practice good hygiene.

“Of all things that is probably the most import thing to wash your hands with hand sanitizer or soap and water,” Krien said.

Despite this new case being close to home, Krien says people are much more anxious about the spread than they need to be. He added he would be more concerned about influenza than the coronavirus.

“I’m confident that we’re well prepared here at Mayo Clinic to take care of patients,” Krien said.

Gundersen Health System said in a statement that it also screens patients who may have traveled outside the United States. It also reiterated the concern for other, more common illnesses like the cold or flu. Health experts with Gundersen Health System said it is important to practice good hand hygiene, cover coughs and get a flu vaccine.