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State, county and campus urge precautions as omicron fuels rise in COVID-19 cases

December 21, 2021

Anticipating a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant, Dane County has extended its masking order to Feb. 1 and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services issued a public health advisory calling on people to take precautions.

“I urge every Wisconsinite to take immediate action and get the COVID-19 vaccine and your booster dose if you haven’t received it already – this is critically important for mitigating surges in hospitalizations and deaths across our state,” said Governor Tony Evers. “Please get the vaccine, continue following public health best practices, and do your part to help slow the spread of the omicron variant.”

In addition to vaccination, DHS urges people to:

  • Wear a well-fitting mask in indoor spaces when others are present who do not live with you.
  • Celebrate safely over the holidays by keeping gatherings small, getting tested before visiting others, and staying home if you have any symptoms.

“We encourage students and employees to receive their booster shots and take the latest state, county and campus guidance seriously,” said Jake Baggott, associate vice chancellor for student affairs and University Health Services executive director. “Campus leaders continue to monitor the situation and are taking all of these developments into account as we share additional information.”

The current campus masking order is in effect until Jan. 15 and will be re-evaluated in early January. Currently more than 95 percent of students and employees are vaccinated, with a significant share also having received a booster dose.

The Midwest region of the U.S., including Wisconsin and Dane County, has experienced a surge in people testing positive for COVID, according to Public Health Madison & Dane County. The number of people testing positive for COVID in Dane County has increased to an average of 255 people per day, the highest this year. The number of people hospitalized with COVID in Dane County is also at a high point for the year. Dane County remains in CDC’s highest level of community transmission.

On campus, cases have reached a seven-day average of 39 cases per day, also a high for the fall semester. On campus and off, omicron is highly contagious, spreading rapidly and makes up a growing proportion of cases.

“The best strategy we have to tackle this virus includes creating layers of protection. First, get boosted or vaccinated, then wear a mask indoors, wash your hands, and keep your distance. The more layers the better,” said Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway.