First confirmed case of COVID-19 in Door County

The first reported case of the coronavirus in Door County was announced Monday by the Door County Public Health Department.  According to the news release, the Individual has remained in isolation since testing for the virus.  The Door County Health and Wisconsin Department of Health Services are identifying and contacting people who have been in close contact with the person affected.  Those people will be asked to quarantine themselves for 14 days from exposure.  You can find the complete news release with this story online including simple steps to prevent illness and avoid exposure to the coronavirus.   




COVID-19 Update Confirmed in Door County 

Door County—Department of Health and Human Services announced today that there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Door County. This individual has remained isolated since time of testing. 

Door County Public Health and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) responsibilities include: 

• Identifying and contacting anyone who has been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19. These people are asked to quarantine themselves for 14 days from their exposure and will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms. People with symptoms are tested for COVID-19. 

• Daily symptom monitoring to determine when a person can be released from isolation. 

• Providing guidance to clinicians regarding testing 

• Preparing Wisconsin for community spread of COVID-19. 

Door County Public Health is working with our local, state, and federal partners to deal quickly and effectively when people have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been around people who have been infected with the coronavirus. 

In order to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin, Governor Tony Evers directed Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to issue a Safer at Home order that prohibits all nonessential travel. This order went into effect at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, and will remain in effect until 8 a.m. on April 24, 2020, or until a superseding order is issued. 

The public should follow simple steps to prevent illness and avoid exposure to this virus including: 

• Avoid social gatherings with people of all ages (including playdates and sleepovers, parties, large family dinners, visitors in your home, and non-essential workers in your house); 

• Frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water; 

• Covering coughs and sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands); 

• Regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces; 

• Not shaking hands; 

• Avoiding touching your face; and 

• Staying home. 

We encourage the public to monitor the Door County Government website Door County Public Health Facebook page and the DHS website for updates, and to follow @DHSWI on Facebook and Twitter, or DHS WI on Instagram. Additional information can be found on the CDC website. 



Travel Advisory issued in Kewaunee County

The Kewaunee County Public Health Department has issued a travel advisory to keep residents healthy and safe during the COVID-19 crisis.  Since there are no confirmed coronavirus cases in Kewaunee County as of Monday, local health officials are asking non-permanent residents to avoid travel to their seasonal homes in the county.  The travel advisory is also asking residents of Kewaunee County to stay in the county when doing their shopping for necessities.  Kewaunee County Public Health Department Director Cindy Kinnard says, “we all need to continue to do our part to limit the spread of COVID-19 and by everyone limiting travel is just another way that we can all unite.  Now, we do understand that some Primary care physicians of residents may require travel outside of Kewaunee County, and those appointments can be critical to keep.” She adds to keep social distancing at all times by remaining at least six feet apart from others.   Door County issued a similar travel advisory last week.


Fairests biding time

The area’s two Fairests of the Fair are at a standstill as they wait for schools to open and a ban on mass gatherings to be lifted. Door County Fairest of the Fair Katie Guilette and Kewaunee County Fairest of the Fair Kiley Pagel are tasked with visiting local events and talking to people promoting their area’s signature events. During the final months of her reign, Guilette was planning on visiting Door County schools to encourage students to enter some of their class assignments and other projects into the Junior Fair. Pagel hardly had a chance to get her term going, appearing at Winter Park and the Bruemmer Park Zoo’s ZoupArt before Kewaunee County events began being shut down and postponed. While she does have schoolwork to keep her occupied, Pagel is anxious to restart her Fairest duties.

The Fairests’ signature events are still scheduled to take place as of right now with the Kewaunee County Fair happening July 9th through the 12th and the Door County Fair occurring July 29th through August 2nd.

Coalition makes big impact in first week

The Door County Emergency Support Coalition is already making a huge impact in the community despite being just a week old. In its infancy, the coalition has already recruited 294 volunteers and completed 64 community assists. Their efforts include assisting in absentee voting efforts, delivering food on the Meals on Wheels program, and taking sanitizing materials to Washington Island. While the numbers and the amount of activity could be staggering to some, Sister Bay/Liberty Grove Fire Chief Chris Hecht says he is not surprised by the support the coalition has received.

While he is happy with the response early on, Hecht reminds everyone that responding to the community’s needs during the COVID-19 outbreak is a marathon and not a sprint. We have information posted below highlighting the achievements of the Door County Emergency Support Coalition and how you can be a volunteer for one of their non-contact positions.


Screenshot from video posted by Door County Fire Chiefs Association


Read more about Door County Emergency Support Coalition efforts by click here


Sign up to be a volunteer by clicking this link



Local blood drives to continue

Some blood drives around Door County will be held as scheduled, even though the donation locations are closed for their day-to-day functions until further notice. The American Red Cross is facing blood shortages and concerns about COVID-19 have canceled 67 blood drives in the Wisconsin/Iowa region. Blood drive locations will also be taking extra precautions to address health concerns.  Laura McGuire with the American Red Cross in Madison says that includes practicing social distancing.



McGuire says that viruses cannot be transmitted via blood donations.  She adds that donors' immunity does not go down after donating blood. However, she requests donors who feel ill within days after a donation please contact the Red Cross so the blood can be quarantined.

Sap season flows well

Sap collectors like Bill Roethle at Hillside Apples in Casco are starting to experience the sweet taste of success after another season comes to a close. The sap begins to flow in maple trees beginning in the middle of February and continues until the beginning of April. The 2,000 gallons of sap collected by Roethle this year went towards the production of 65 gallons of maple syrup for his own use and even more for area wholesalers. He credits gravity and a new system for helping him make about 20 more gallons of syrup this year.

Roethle says good weather also helped in the process as he was able to get to the trees quicker and the sap flowed faster.

Luxemburg machine shop burns

Close to two dozen fire trucks and other emergency personnel responded to a blaze at a machine shop in Luxemburg Sunday night. Located off of Highway 54, fire departments from Luxemburg, Casco, New Franken, Algoma, and Kewaunee began arriving at E&H Premier Machine in Luxemburg at around 7:30 p.m. with smoke coming out and visible damage to the outside of the building. Luxemburg Fire Chief Lew DuChateau says most of the damage occurred in the machine shop’s office.

The Town of Luxemburg Hall, which is connected to the machine shop, only suffered smoke damage. No injuries were reported and DuChateau says the cause of the fire is under investigation. Fire Departments from Brussels-Union-Gardner and Tisch Mills provided back up for the responding units.







"Black swan" likely to cause recession

Sturgeon Bay Mayor David Ward sees some black clouds on the economic horizon. Ward, who has a Ph.D. in economics and was a former college professor, does not believe it’s possible to avoid a downturn. 


Ward expects a recession to take hold even with the stimulus bill passed this week in Washington, D.C. He thinks the economic effects from the coronavirus “black swan” event, defined as something rare and unforeseen, will hit before the stimulus can trickle through the economy. Ward says Sturgeon Bay’s manufacturing base should hold up well and encourages people to support local businesses even if it is as small as ordering a take-out meal at an area restaurant.


Door County Broadband aided by advance plan

Advance planning is paying off for customers of Door County Broadband.  With more people working remotely, the Baileys Harbor-based internet service provider is more than able to keep up with the demand for bandwidth.  Door County Broadband President and CEO Kevin Voss says his company is benefiting from long-term relationships with vendors that can supply additional bandwidth as needed.  He adds that having a disaster response plan in place has allowed the company to function as demand has increased.




Voss says Door County Broadband's disaster response plan has drawn compliments from vendors who say it surpasses those of some larger internet service providers.

Birch Creek faculty sharing hopeful music online

The Birch Creek Performance Center's social media page is buzzing with new sounds. The school’s faculty is putting their recent musical efforts online as they attempt to bridge the time between now and when they can play again at clubs or orchestra hall. Even instructor Reggie Taylor’s latest blues riff is up-tempo. Executive Director Mona Christensen says music is especially important now.


Christensen says that May will be an important time to evaluate whether summer instruction can continue as normal. 

Counseling organization adapts to social distancing requirements

Telehealth has taken off in the coronavirus era, with the diagnosis and treatment of physical, as well as mental, conditions being done in compliance with new guidelines on social distancing. Counseling Associates of Door County is adopting new Centers for Disease Control protocols surrounding mental health and substance abuse treatment. Director William Nick says telehealth isn’t his first choice, but he expects it will stick around.


Telehealth previously ran afoul of HIPAA privacy concerns in many cases, and Nick says once the public health emergency is over, he expects those restrictions to be put back in place.


County employees meet residents' needs from home

Door County government workers are still helping residents in need of assistance.  They're just doing it online in the comfort of their homes.  Many county employees are now answering residents' questions and looking up records working remotely.  That's to comply with Governor Evers' “Safer at Home” order.  County Administrator Ken Pabich says there's little risk of employees and their computers being overloaded at home.  He also says some county government offices are still being staffed though not accessible to the public.




Pabich says it's best for residents needing access to county services to call the Door County Government Center first and be directed to onsite staffers or employees working remotely. 

Burn ban in effect

From en fuego to no bueno, the Department of Natural Resources has instituted a temporary burn ban. No permits will be issued by local fire departments until the ban has been lifted. DNR Fire Prevention Specialist Catherine Koele says spring is the most dangerous time of the year for wildfires in the state.


Fewer than two percent of Wisconsin wildfires are caused by nature. 


Money Management Counselors helping clients through economic shock

Last week, an unprecedented 3.2 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance, with Wisconsin and the Door Peninsula following that trend. The previous record for a week was 695,000 claims in 1981. Unofficial data from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development suggests applications continue to skyrocket, at nearly 20,000 new filings each day. Leslie Boden, Director of Money Management Counselors, says the abrupt change in the country’s economic fortunes can be a clarifying moment for her clients.


Boden says Money Management Counselors will have to delay rolling out an Algoma office until economic uncertainty, and the new wave of demand it creates for the organization, dies down. 


Golf courses prepare as usual for 2020 season

The Orchards at Egg Harbor is proceeding with preparations for the 2020 golfing season even as Door County is urging people to stay away until the COVID-19 pandemic ends. Employees are taking precautions and moving forward with getting the greens and fairways ready.  Managing  Partner Jack  Jackson says as things stand now he expects the course to open as usual in May.




Jackson says The Orchards at Egg Harbor is prepared to serve guests at the bar and grill when the “Safe at Home” order is lifted.  He also says seating can be spaced out to accommodate guests wishing to maintain social distancing inside and on the patio.

Door County Salvation Army able to meet new economic challenge

Volunteer Tom Mullinix says the Door County Salvation Army is well-capitalized to provide rent and utility relief for area residents as a wave of layoffs cascades through the area. Mullinix says the community was so generous during the prosperous times, including the recent holiday season, additional support is not needed now.


Mullinix says he can see the extension become more active in shoring up local food supplies, something it usually leaves to other organizations. He expects that the strain on the supply chain seen at the grocery store will trickle into nonprofit food pantries as well.


Humane Society in need of foster homes

The Wisconsin Humane Society is not worried yet about the number of animals under its care, but Vice President of Communications Angela Speed says that can change quickly come summertime.


Three of the organization’s five shelters have closed, including its Door County campus, which means they desperately need foster homes to provide care until the coronavirus epidemic has passed. Adoptions are also welcome but are currently being done through appointment only. You can see all of the animals looking for a home by clicking here.


*Photo from Wisconsin Humane Society website. 

Door and Kewaunee Counties vote no on mail-in election

Governor Tony Evers proposed a mail-in election Friday afternoon, asking that all registered voters in the state be given an absentee ballot. Clerks in Door and Kewaunee Counties are rejecting that idea. The concerns range from budgetary matters to election integrity, says Kewaunee Clerk Jamie Annoye.


Jill Lau says plenty of people heeded the call to vote using an absentee ballot already.


Lau says that with so many votes received at this point, even a postponement would be troublesome. That would mean that most will have potentially cast their ballots weeks, or months, before Election Day proper.


Southern Door schools meeting increased need of meal program

An increasing number of families who have children in the Southern Door School District are benefiting from the lunch program that restarted earlier this week despite the temporary closure of schools statewide.  School Superintendent Patti Vickman says that the food is being prepared by A’viands Food Service Management with some staff members at the school actually helping with the delivery of the program.  She says the program is running smoothly in the first week, even with the increased demand.



The breakfast and lunches are distributed at the fire departments located in Southern Door and also at the school for pickup.  If transportation is an issue for the recipients, the meals are being delivered to the residences, according to Vickman.  


Pets offer a healthy diversion 

Flea and tick season is approaching soon, and Dr. Jordan Kobilca from Door County Veterinary Hospital in Sturgeon Bay reminds pet owners to make sure your dog has the proper preventative protection for the spring and summer.  He assures people that veterinary services are operating as usual, although having your pet seen may take a little more time.   He says spending more time at home with your families and pets can be positive.



Dr. Jordan says his clinics are allowing for curbside drop-off of pets to accommodate people with social distancing.  He says his veterinary hospital has enough medical supplies for the foreseeable future, but surgical masks and gloves are on backorder at this time.  The Centers for Disease Control have stated that there is no evidence that pets can spread COVID-19.


Religious leaders asking for people to come together spiritually

Churches throughout Door and Kewaunee Counties are finding new ways to reach out to their members since the doors are closed temporarily for masses and services. Churches like St. Mary’s in Luxemburg and Shrine of Our Lady of Hope in Champion are utilizing live video streaming, while others are using the airways. During this time of social distancing, Fr. Bob Stegmann of St. Joseph’s and St. Peter & Paul’s Catholic Parishes in Sturgeon Bay shared the message last week asking people to use the power of prayer to come together as one.



96.7 FM WBDK will broadcast three services this Sunday beginning at 8 a.m. with St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 9 a.m. with St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Algoma and 10 a.m. with Friends Community Church.  St Francis & St Mary Catholic Church Brussels will air Sunday Service on 104.1 FM WRLU at 8 am. 


Kewaunee Crafters donate over 500 masks

A potentially life-saving service project by the Kewaunee Artisan Center helped to collect over 500 donated masks this week. Bellin Hospital reached out to the organization’s president Cheryl Daul last Sunday to procure handmade face masks to protect medical professionals on the frontlines who are dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. Daul says the quilters had plenty of cotton fabric and a good pattern but it was a challenge finding elastic for the masks. She says over 30 volunteers participated in the successful project that left Bellin Hospital medical personnel impressed.



Daul says all the masks were bagged and dropped off on Friday at the Kewaunee Artisan Center. A total of 563 masks were made since Sunday and will be used by doctors and nurses in Green Bay.


Community picking up food tab

Dinner is on the house for those in need thanks to over a dozen different entities in Door and Kewaunee Counties. Beginning on Monday, the Door County Meals Cooperative will be providing dinners among other items at six different locations throughout the area between Algoma and Baileys Harbor. With schools, businesses, and nonprofits all chipping in to help, Program director Adam Peronto says they have developed a great partnership to get the cooperative off the ground to serve at least 15,000 meals a week for at least 10 weeks.

Registration is not required to participate in the donor-supported program and it is available to those struggling during this time Monday through Friday from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Breakfasts and lunches have been available at many of the local school districts for students in Door and Kewaunee Counties since they closed their doors two weeks ago. Monday marks the first day Gibraltar Area School District will distribute free meals at locations in Egg Harbor, Baileys Harbor, Fish Creek, and Sister Bay. You can find more information on meal distribution below.



Farmers getting out to their fields

Even with extra help around the farm right now, the one lending the biggest hand to farmers in Door and Kewaunee Counties is that of Mother Nature. Many operations were able to celebrate National Agriculture Week by frost spreading on winter wheat and alfalfa fields. That is because the ground was able to handle the equipment. Rio Creek Feed Mill agronomist Adam Barta says the controlled melting of snow and ice in recent weeks made that possible.

Operations like Rio Creek Feed Mill have kept busy as an essential business for agriculture during the Safer at Home order and Barta says they are taking the proper precautions to keep their customers and employees safe.

Keeping kids on routine a struggle

From newborns to high school seniors, the daily routine of thousands of kids and their parents in Door and Kewaunee Counties has been disrupted due to circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak. While school-aged kids have their remote learning activities to keep them occupied, it is a little trickier for kids under the age of four. Karen Corekin-DeLaMer from Northern Door Children’s Center in Sister Bay says it is still essential to keep them on a routine as much as possible.

Corekin-DeLaMer says there are many resources available online with age-appropriate activities to keep them busy and learning. Child-care centers across the state are now under capacity limits set by the Evers Administration to help control the COVID-19 outbreak.

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