MADISON, Wis. — The Latest on the coronavirus outbreak in Wisconsin (all times local):
Wisconsin's chief medical officer for communicable diseases said Monday that efforts to stay at home are helping to slow the growth of cases of the coronavirus in the state.
"What we're doing is working," said Dr. Ryan Westergaard during a conference call. He said the state is seeing a slowing in the increase in cases, but the next two weeks will be critical. Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm said she doesn't expect the state to hit a peak in cases for 10 days or more.
Westergaard said lives had already been saved thanks to Gov. Tony Evers' stay-at-home order.
"It could be a lot worse," Westergaard said.
Evers said the state is preparing field hospitals and voluntary isolation centers in anticipation of the expected surge in coming days. As of Monday, there were 20 deaths in the state due to the virus and more than 1,200 confirmed cases, according to state and local health officials.
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Wisconsin surpassed 1,200 on Monday, the state Department of Health Services reported.
The state recorded 14 deaths, but local health departments said that 20 people had died.
Gov. Tony Evers urged people to continue to follow the order to stay at home. He said work was ongoing to make sure the state was ready for an expected surge of cases in coming weeks.
"We are headed into the worst of this, folks," Evers said. "I'm sure many of us would like to wake up from this nightmare tomorrow morning and say it never happened. But the responsible thing is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best."
Wisconsin will be able to double its capacity to process COVID-19 tests with the addition of new laboratories that will assist with the effort, Gov. Tony Evers said Monday.
The new public-private partnership includes laboratory support from Exact Sciences, Marshfield Clinic Health System, Promega and UW Health. Existing labs that had been doing testing were able to complete between 1,500 and 2,000 a day, but that is expected to double initially and grow as more supplies become available, Evers' office said in a statement announcing the agreement.
The Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene and the Milwaukee Public Health Lab have been leading the network to get additional testing.
Evers said that given the spread of COVID-19, "there will be significant pressure on our labs to keep pace with testing."
As of Monday morning, 20 people had died in Wisconsin from the virus and more than 1,100 had tested positive.
Preparations for Wisconsin's presidential primary and spring election that's just a week away on April 7 continued on Monday, even in the face of a growing number of COVID-19 cases statewide and lawsuits seeking a delay and other changes to how the election is run.
Monday was the deadline for voters to register to vote online or by mail to cast an absentee ballot. Once registered, they had until Thursday to request an absentee ballot. As of Monday morning, more than 848,000 absentee ballots had been sent to voters and nearly 252,000 had been returned, crushing previous record highs for a spring election.
There remains a pending federal lawsuit that seeks to postpone the election, move to a mail-in voting only and make a number of other changes to facilitate more ballots being cast.
Meanwhile, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers was at odds with Republicans who control the Legislature over what action the state Legislature should take to deal with the pandemic that's claimed at least 20 lives in the state and infected more than 1,100 people.
Evers wanted the Legislature to approve $700 million in funding, and waive voter ID requirements for the upcoming election, but Republicans say they want to better understand what the roughly $2.3 billion Wisconsin is receiving in federal aid will be spent on before proceeding.