The coronavirus pandemic reached another grim milestone on Saturday.
More than 200,000 people have died worldwide from complications from the novel virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The death toll in the United States surpassed 53,000.
Each loss is immeasurable, not just for loved ones but for the wider community.
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Milwaukee has felt its share of grief. George Matthews, 67, a veteran and advocate for the Sherman Park neighborhood, died Tuesday of complications of the coronavirus.
“He was a warrior on behalf of the community,” said Social Development Commission President George Hinton.
The spread of the virus had not yet slowed in Wisconsin, where testing has been ramped up and officials are monitoring hot spots.
For the second day in a row, the state health department reported a record number of new confirmed cases of COVID-19.
The state Department of Health Services reported that 331 more people have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the state’s total number of cases to 5,687.
The largest number of new cases — about a third, or 115 — came from Brown County, where recent outbreaks have been tied to three meatpacking plants.
In Wisconsin, a total of 266 people have died, an increase of four from Friday. More than 57,100 people have tested negative for the virus.
A little under half of those diagnosed with COVID-19 have recovered, according to DHS. The state’s definition of a recovered patient is somebody known to have resolved symptoms or been released from isolation, or somebody who is alive 30 days after developing symptoms or being diagnosed.
About 5% of those diagnosed with COVID-19 have died.
The Wisconsin Hospital Association reported Saturday morning that 341 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 and 241 inpatients were awaiting test results. More than 130 COVID-19 patients are in the intensive care unit.
Burnett, Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Pepin and Taylor counties have not reported a single case of COVID-19.
Milwaukee County has reported the most cases, at 2,525, with 720 in Brown County and 401 in Dane County.
There continued to be intense focus on whether the controversial April 7 election has an affect on the number of coronavirus cases.
In a Friday media briefing, Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik noted that she originally reported there were seven suspected coronavirus cases found in people who voted on election day or worked at the polls.
“Now there’s 40 people that showed up,” she said. “We’re analyzing more to show the connections between the people.”
The department was analyzing data from election day, a process she said she hoped would be completed by May 1. She did not elaborate, telling reporters to “stay tuned.”
Gov. Tony Evers attempted to delay the election out of fears that masses of people at polling places would result in more people contracting the disease. The governor’s eleventh-hour bid was blocked by the Republican-dominated state Legislature and Supreme Court.
In the past week there has been a push back against the governor’s safer-at-home order, with rallies in Brookfield, Mosinee and Madison. Some 1,500 people gathered Friday at the State Capitol to implore Evers to reopen the state to business.
Now, at least one virtual group has popped up in support of Evers’ moves to control the spread of the virus.
More than 14,000 people joined a private Facebook group called “We Support Gov. Evers and COVID 19 Safer At Home Order” with a virtual rally held over the weekend.
“We didn’t expect this much of a response,” said Mary Beth Glenn, of Colby, who helped establish the pages. “I think the vast majority of Americans support the safe at home measures. I think a lot of people were looking for an outlet. I think that’s why it has caught on quick.”
Numerous recent public opinion polls have shown that people pushing back against safer-at-home orders nationwide are in the minority by a wide margin. A recent Pew Research Center poll, for example, found that 66% of Americans were more worried that restrictions would be lifted too soon compared to the 32% who said not soon enough. That sentiment held true regardless of gender, income, ethnic group or political party affiliation.
Journal Sentinel reporters Cary Spivak and Ricardo Torres contributed to this article.
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