Third Wisconsin person tests positive for new coronavirus

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A third person in Wisconsin, and the second in Dane County, has tested positive for the coronavirus, state health officials said Tuesday.

The news of a third positive case came on the same day that a western Wisconsin school district canceled classes so that its facilities can be thoroughly cleaned because someone sickened by the virus attended an event at its high school last weekend.

The latest person to test positive was exposed while traveling in the United States and is currently isolated at home, the state Department of Health Services said in a statement. Dane County health officials were working to determine who has been in contact with the person so they can be isolated, quarantined and tested.

"We continue to urge state residents to take precautions to avoid illness," said Jeanne Ayers, Wisconsin's state health officer.

The first person to test positive, back in February, was also from Dane County, which is home to the state capital of Madison and the University of Wisconsin's flagship campus. That person tested positive after returning from a trip to China and has fully recovered after recuperating in isolation at home, health officials said.

The state's other positive case was confirmed late Monday in Pierce County, which borders Minnesota in western Wisconsin.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 58,000 have so far recovered.

The Osceola School District, just north of Pierce County, canceled all of its classes on Tuesday after district officials said someone who had the virus attended a Saturday event at the high school.

It wasn't immediately clear if that person was the same one who state officials confirmed on Monday. Authorities haven't said whether the person who was at the school event was showing symptoms at that point.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services said the Pierce County resident was exposed while traveling within the U.S. and is currently isolated at home.

Osceola is the first school district in Wisconsin to cancel classes because of the virus. District officials consulted with Polk County and state health officials before deciding to cancel classes and activities on Tuesday ``so recommended cleaning can take place ensuring the safety of students and staff,`` Superintendent Mark Luebker said.

The person with the virus attended a Destination Imagination tournament at the Osceola High School on Saturday, Luebker said. The event drew more than 100 teams from 21 countries.

Also on Monday, University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank sent an email to faculty, staff and students encouraging them not to travel outside of Dane County during spring break, which runs from Saturday through March 22. Blank said UW-Madison was also canceling and suspending all university-sponsored travel, including spring break trips, to countries severely affected by the virus. Those countries are China, France, Germany, Italy, Iran, Japan, South Korea and Spain, but Blank cautioned that the list is likely to expand.

Anyone returning to campus from an area that has a Level 3 travel warning from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will not be allowed to return to work at UW-Madison and must remain self-isolated for 14 days, even if they do not have symptoms, Blank said. Everyone returning from spring break outside of Madison are required to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days, she said.
The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

(Copyright 2020, The Associated Press)

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