CHIPPEWA FALLS — The Chippewa County Courthouse has reopened to the public, with face masks recommended but not required, said county Administrator Randy Scholz.
Scholz said the doors were unlocked Monday, and almost all county departments are open to the public. The Aging and Disability Resource Center remains closed to the public because the department serves a vulnerable population, and the veterans’ services office is locked because of a lack of staffing.
“We have taken steps to minimize risks,” he said.
At this time, Scholz said he has told employees who can’t socially distance from others to wear masks.
“We haven’t made masks mandatory yet,” Scholz said. “If we see a big uptick in people coming in, we will reevaluate that.”
Public Health Director Angela Weideman said she doesn’t anticipate asking area businesses or municipalities to look at requiring masks at this time. Many cities nationwide are now requiring masks in any indoor facility other than homes. Miami is now requiring masks everywhere in public, indoors and outdoors.
Weideman said physical distancing is still the best practice for slowing the spread of COVID-19.
“I do think it is in the best interest to wear masks in public,” she added.
In the past week, Chippewa County has seen eight new positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the county to 71 overall. Ten of the 71 are being monitored for ongoing symptoms.
Weideman announced that nobody is hospitalized in the county with virus symptoms; two weeks ago, there were three people hospitalized. The county still hasn’t recorded a COVID-19-related death.
The number of tests performed this week climbed by 18, from 440 to 458.
“I was happy to see a slight increase from the week before,” Weideman said. “The capacity is definitely increasing.”
All skilled care nursing homes in the county have now been tested; Weideman said some long-term care facilities are still planning to have tests performed.
This week President Donald Trump has suggested that the country may be overtesting. Weideman rejected that idea, saying it is the best way to locate and isolate sick people. She noted that 29 states have seen an increase in positive cases in the past week.
“We haven’t started testing on asymptomatic people at all,” she said. “At this point, we are not overtesting locally.”