WAUSAU – Justin Borger voted for the first time Tuesday. He wished it wasn’t in the middle of a pandemic.
“I just turned 18 a couple months ago,” said Borger. “So, I figured why not?”
He said he was worried for the health of his older relatives.
“For my grandparents and the older people I know, I’m a little bit worried,” said Borger. “So, I try to stay away from them and social distance to try and keep them safe.”
The hockey-rink-turned-polling place in Marathon Park accommodated Borger. This included routine sanitization, plastic screens, and clean pens. About half of the people inside wore masks.
Chief Inspector Jack Frederick said there were fewer people today than usual.
“We’re making people stay six feet apart in the lines, which there haven’t been much of today,” said Frederick. “[There’s been] a lot of absentee ballots, but not a lot of foot traffic. Not as much as normal that’s for sure.”
Borger successfully voted for the first time. He said he felt safe doing it.
“It was fun,” said Borger. “I enjoyed it. I was a little bit confused wandering around in there, but I got the hang of it in the end and I’m glad I came out and voted today.”
Results from Tuesday’s election will not be available until Monday, April 13.
NORTHWOODS – Before voters could fill out a ballot, they had to disinfect.
“Earlier last week, every polling place received supplies from the Wisconsin Election Commission,” Vilas County clerk Dave Alleman said. “This box of supplies included sanitizer, included wipes, included some masks.”
Those supplies were put to good use at polls around the Northwoods, on the advice of public health departments.
“They put a lot of measures in place to help control the environment so that people can stay safe,” said Judy Burrows, a public information officer with the Marathon County Health Department.
Officials across the state have been encouraging people to stay home for almost a month, but election day left them feeling conflicted.
MADISON – The number of deaths from the coronavirus in Wisconsin increased by 15 as reported Tuesday as voters were casting ballots in person at the polls statewide, despite an order to stay at home to avoid spreading the highly contagious disease.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported that deaths increased from 77 on Monday to 92 on Tuesday. The overall number of confirmed cases rose from 2,440 to 2,578.
– Wisconsin’s chaotic primary may just be the beginning. Both major parties are preparing for a months-long, state-by-state legal fight over how citizens can safely cast their ballots should the coronavirus outbreak persist through November’s election.
The outcome of the court battles – expected to litigate mail-in voting rules, voter identification requirements and safe access to polls – may have a significant impact on how many people turn out to vote in hundreds of elections across the country between now and November, including the race for the White House. It will likely play out in key presidential battlegrounds amid an already roiling debate over voting rights and protecting access to the ballot.
WAUSAU – Aspirus is the latest health system to start lab testing for coronavirus. Not just swabbing; actual testing. Officials say 40 tests have been run so far, all coming back negative.
In a news conference Monday, Aspirus officials said the in-house lab is only testing healthcare workers or patients who required hospitalization. They say any other potential COVID specimens are sent to Mayo Clinic.
Molecular Technical Specialist Kate Drewer is the only person performing the testing at this time. She was able to create the test on her own.
“[Kate] has put in a lot of time, a lot of effort,” said Aspirus official Jesse Tischer. “Essentially single-handedly, with support around her, but single-handedly bringing the test to the community of Wausau. And without her, we would not have the test available.”
Drewek does testing in two batches everyday. Turnaround time is three to four hours.
ONEIDA COUNTY –
Oneida County health officials confirmed two more people have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the county’s total to 5.
Health officials say the 4th individual is in their 50’s and has traveled outside the community, but has not had any contact with anyof the previously confirmed cases in the county. That person is now in isolation.
They say the 5th individual is in their 70’s, and is currently in the hospital. They say they person has not had contact with any of thepreviously confirmed cases in the county, nor have they traveled outside of the community.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends wearing face masks to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Stores in our area that sell the materials to make them have been declared non-essential, though.
“I don’t want to jeopardize anybody’s health and be open as usual,” store owner Mary Wilke said.
Wilke knew she had to close both of her Sew Smart crafting supply stores as soon as COVID-19 appeared, but she was offering curbside delivery until she got a call.
“The health department called me and told me that I was not abiding by the law and I had to cease immediately and I could no longer do that,” Wilke said. “The only options I had were to do mail order or deliveries.”