MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers announced on August 11, 2020 that in just over six months, Wisconsin’s COVID-19 death toll has surpassed 1,000 people. This devastating news comes just as Gov. Evers issued Emergency Order #1, requiring face coverings to be worn in response to the recent spike in new infections. Since early July, the average number of deaths and the seven-day average of new cases have been increasing.
“Even one death from COVID-19 is one too many,” said Gov. Evers. “To all the Wisconsinites dealing with the loss of a family member, a friend, a coworker, or a neighbor, I express my deepest condolences. Know that our hearts and thoughts are with you, and we are going to continue doing everything we can to fight this virus that has already taken the lives of so many across our state.”
On July 9th the seven-day average was only two deaths reported per day, but nearly one month later the seven-day average was eight deaths reported per day. Out of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, 52 have reported at least one COVID-19 death.
Data also show the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has on communities of color. While Black people make up only 7% if Wisconsin’s population, 21% of COVID-19 deaths in Wisconsin are among Black individuals. Many factors impact health outcomes such as employment, income, housing, education, and accessibility of quality healthcare services. These factors are the social determinants of health and have played a role in the higher rates of COVID-19 infections and deaths among historically marginalized populations, especially Black, Latinx, and Indigenous individuals. Compared to White Wisconsinites, the infection rate is over five times higher for Latinx Wisconsinites and the death rate is over four times higher for Black Wisconsinites.
“COVID-19 is present in every corner of Wisconsin, and it is up to each of us to do our part to stop the spread,” said Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “Boxing in the virus will help prevent deaths, and that means following best public health practices: staying home, wearing a cloth face covering or mask, practicing physical distancing, and washing your hands thoroughly.”
As Wisconsin passes this devastating milestone, it is important for Wisconsinites to take care of their emotional and mental health, as part of their overall health and well-being. In April, DHS launched the Resilient Wisconsin initiative to provide stress-reduction strategies and behavioral health resources.
“I know the news of 1,000 deaths in Wisconsin has affected me and all of us at DHS just like the rest of the state,” said Robin Matthies, Trauma and Resilience Program Manager in the Division of Public Health. “Please remember – it is okay to ask for help if you’re struggling with this news, or any stressors, due to COVID-19 or otherwise. Practicing self-care isn’t selfish – it’s a best health practice just like washing your hands and wearing a face covering.”
The DHS continues to closely monitor data in order to better understand how the virus impacts our communities. If you are experiencing symptoms, even if mild, or have been in contact with someone that has tested positive, please get tested. Visit the DHS testing webpage to find a community test site near you, and visit the Resilient Wisconsin webpage for more behavioral health resources.