Tell your county supervisors and city council members to support requirements that people wear face masks and maintain appropriate physical distance from others when out in public or when around other people who are not part of their households.

When we all follow those public health protections we will reduce COVID-19 exposure and spread risks in all of our communities. And doing that will be a huge help to all the people, businesses, and schools in all of our communities during these very difficult times.

Our experience since May 13, 2020, when the Wisconsin Supreme Court voided the Department of Health Services statewide “Safer at Home” Emergency Order, is that COVID-19 is spreading alarmingly across Wisconsin, including within St. Croix County.

On Thursday, July 23, St. Croix County reported 19 new cases, and its third death of the pandemic, bringing the cumulative total of reported COVID-19 cases in the county to 382.

On Friday, July 24, St. Croix County reported another 10 new cases, raising the cumulative total to 392.

State data show St. Croix County is investigating five long-term care facilities, including Hammond Health Services, Park View Home, and St. Croix Health Center. The other two were not identified. The county also is investigating six workplaces and two other settings for COVID-19 outbreaks.

COVID-19 is spreading at an increasingly rapid rate in St. Croix County, as shown in the DHS cumulative epidemic curve for the county.

Over less than four weeks prior to July 24, total reported cases more than doubled in St. Croix County. On June 28 there were 192 total reported cases in the county, and on July 24 there were 392.

Over the six weeks prior to July 24, total reported cases in St. Croix County more than tripled. On June 12 there were 130 total reported cases in the county, and on July 24 there were 392.

And over the eight weeks prior to July 24, total reported cases in St. Croix County about quadrupled. On May 27, two weeks after the statewide “Safer at Home” emergency order was voided, there were just 99 total reported cases in the county, but on July 24 there were 392.

These rapidly rising COVID-19 case numbers for St. Croix County count only the cases that have been identified and reported to state and local public health officials.

However, recent studies show that the actual numbers of people infected with the virus in different parts of the U.S. are from two to 13 times higher than the reported case numbers.

The actual spread within St. Croix County is quite likely to now be much greater than the number of cases so far reported. However, since only a very small portion of the people in St. Croix County have been tested for COVID-19 to date, we don’t yet know if the actual case numbers here now are two times greater (2 x 392 = 784 cases) or as much as 13 times greater (13 x 392 = 5,096 cases).

COVID-19 certainly is being spread within St. Croix County by people who do not know they are carrying the new coronavirus. COVID-19 can be and is spread by people who have the virus but who are pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic. Studies show that as many as 4 in 10 people (40%) who have the virus and who are contagious to others do not know they have the virus and may be infecting other people.

But as the CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield said on July 14, 2020:

“We are not defenseless against COVID-19. Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.”

The CDC reviewed the latest science and concluded that cloth face coverings are a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19 that could reduce the spread of the disease, particularly when used universally within communities.

Universal mask-wearing not only reduces and slows the spread of the virus within the community. It also reduces the severity of the disease for a mask-wearing person who still comes down with COVID-19, because masks reduce the quantity of virus that can be spread from person to person.

The majority of people now want mandatory and enforceable public health protections against COVID-19 exposure and spread risks. Recent polling shows that 3 out of 4 Americans (75%), including a majority of Republicans, support mask requirements to reduce and spread risks.

Our local units of government should now adopt mandatory and enforceable public health protections against covid-19 exposure and spread risks.

A loud minority may bray about infringements of their supposed “freedoms” and “rights.”

But “liberty” under the U.S. Constitution does not include a “right” of individuals to make decisions about their own health that also endanger other people. Under the 10th Amendment and SCOTUS decisions over nearly 200 years, it is clear law that state and local governments may require public health protections during a pandemic such as our current COVID-19 situation.

Please act now to do what we can to slow and stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

Celeste Koeberl graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School and holds a master's degree in counseling psychology from the University of St. Thomas. She began her career as a research assistant in the nonpartisan House Research Department for the Minnesota House of Representatives..

References

Where states reopened and cases spiked after the U.S. shutdown:

www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/national/states-reopening-coronavirus-map/

St. Croix County Covid-19 Dashboard:

scccdd.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/859b5b36d25e47ec8512e86356ca8ac2

Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services Covid-19 Cases by County:

www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/county.htm

Coronavirus Infections Much Higher Than Reported Cases in Parts of U.S., Study Shows:

www.nytimes.com/2020/07/21/health/coronavirus-infections-us.html?action=click&campaign_id=56&emc=edit_cn_20200722&instance_id=20514&module=RelatedLinks&nl=on-politics-with-lisa-lerer&pgtype=Article&regi_id=117728197&segment_id=34037&te=1&user_id=afa8cfdec89fb49b4fa8a5fce149c065&fbclid=IwAR0exXyKPU98PYyH1W90INtDASe7jStiRyqy_cKIJltIdgaqagp_3cpJlpc

Scientists grasp for clues as seemingly healthy people spread COVID-19:

www.startribune.com/silent-spread-of-virus-keeps-scientists-grasping-for-clues/571857011/?fbclid=IwAR0cykBFx5JAbCcf2R5sgCuM5Y2Y1zb7ruj-rl1bifV-PsOSRscxjuMcUd8

CDC calls on Americans to wear masks to prevent COVID-19 spread:

www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/p0714-americans-to-wear-masks.html

Wearing masks could help you avoid major illness even if you get coronavirus, experts say:

www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-07-21/masks-help-avoid-major-illness-coronavirus?utm_source=sfmc_100035609&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=28061%20Coronavirus%20Today&utm_term=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.latimes.com%2Fcalifornia%2Fstory%2F2020-07-21%2Fmasks-help-avoid-major-illness-coronavirus&utm_id=10347&sfmc_id=477382&fbclid=IwAR2XZUcZULvcrZN9e31qsT7b6xO1M8xAYCcwecCBAd88V4t8K1SZLmzeC2Y

3 of 4 Americans Favor Mask Requirement:

/madison.com/news/national/coronavirus-morning-brief-3-of-4-americans-favor-mask-requirements-jobless-claims-back-on-the/article_e5b4d874-8011-5959-8683-01f64769b824.html?fbclid=IwAR2I9n4TgMdJWr8AMcI6rOvQ1OS7j5XG7iA4LJW3_FjLbxuhpefwZ-cVM2c#utm_source=madison.com&utm_campaign=%2Fnewsletter-templates%2Fbreaking&utm_medium=PostUp&utm_content=ec7c9842fe53042d6251d176017e3d9d90f99df0

Two centuries of law guide legal approach to modern pandemic:

www.americanbar.org/news/abanews/publications/youraba/2020/youraba-april-2020/law-guides-legal-approach-to-pandemic/

Yes, the government can restrict your liberty to protect public health:

www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-04-20/government-can-restrict-your-liberty-to-protect-public-health-courts-have-made-that-clear