BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) – The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Brown County has topped 1,000 for the first time.
On Thursday, Brown County Public Health announced it had 1,049 confirmed cases. That’s an increase of 81 cases from Wednesday.
“We continue to see an increase due to increased testing capacity. We urge everyone to practice safe social distancing, stay home if you are sick, avoid any public gathering, clean touched surfaces in homes and vehicles,” says Public Health Strategist Claire Paprocki.
Oneida Nation reports eight confirmed cases–an increase from seven on Wednesday.
Forty people are hospitalized in Brown County with COVID-19. That’s three more from Wednesday’s report. Paprocki says 142 people are out of isolation–meaning they are no longer showing symptoms and are able to return to work.
Three people have died in the county.
Paprocki says the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and Wisconsin National Guard have opened a drive-thru testing site at the Resch Center for employees linked to outbreaks at “critical infrastructure facilities.” This includes long-term care facilities and some work places. This site is not open to the public. Do not show up unless you have been instructed to go there for testing.
There are 30 facility-wide public health investigations in Northeast Wisconsin, according to the Department of Health Services. There are 11 investigations at long-term care facilities; 8 investigations at workplaces (non-health care); 7 investigations at group housing; 1 investigation at a health care facility; and 3 investigations at “other settings.”
Testing is also underway at Green Bay’s JBS beef plant for employees only. JBS closed the plant Sunday due to an outbreak in workers.
Green Bay Police are providing traffic control at these testing sites.
The number of confirmed cases in JBS workers rose to 290 Thursday. That’s up from 262 on Wednesday. The county provided a lower number for cases linked to the JBS outbreak. On Wednesday, they told us there were 86 cases linked to JBS. On Thursday, that number was reduced to 58.
“It’s a very manual process,” Paprocki said.
A linked case is one in which a person became sick after close contact with an infected worker.
The number of COVID-19 cases in workers at Green Bay’s American Foods Group facility increased to 179. That’s up from 170 on Wednesday. The county says 32 cases are linked to the AFG outbreak. That’s up slightly from 27 on Wednesday.
President Donald Trump earlier this week signed an executive order that meat packaging facilities stay open under the Defense Production Act. The order classifies meat packing plants as critical infrastructure. This happened after Tyson Foods took out a full page ad in the New York Times warning about a possible break in the supply chain.
On April 26, JBS announced the voluntary closure of its facility on Lime Kiln Road in Green Bay. The company has not said when it plans to reopen.
JBS has announced the limited reopening of its Worthington, Minn. plant after an outbreak there.
The company has fully reopened its Greeley, Co. plant after an outbreak there.
JBS Spokesman Cameron Bruett issued the following statement late Wednesday afternoon regarding the president’s executive order:
“The men and women who feed America have gone unnoticed for far too long. The country is now rightly focused on their essential role in keeping grocery shelves stocked and helping feed families across our nation every day. Their health and safety remains our primary focus. To us, they have always been essential. We thank the Administration for acknowledging the important role food companies serve and ensuring that our food supply will remain resilient during these unprecedented times.”
The state’s largest immigrant rights organization, Voces de la Frontera, has voiced concerns over workplace safety at meat packaging facilities.
The organization is filing with the National Labor Relations Board and OSHA after meeting with workers at nine companies statewide, including at least three in the Green Bay area.
“This is nothing short of white collar crime. Essential workers and their families are getting sick, some of them are dying,” said Executive Director Christine Neumann-Ortiz.
CLICK HERE to track the outbreak in Wisconsin.