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Second case of COVID-19 confirmed in Brown County

By Rich Palzewic
Staff Writer

BROWN COUNTY – With the second case of COVID-19 confirmed in Brown County, the county board discussed steps to deal with the outbreak at its meeting Wednesday, March 18, inside the auditorium of the Brown County Central Library.

“We do have a second confirmed case of COVID-19 in Brown County,” said Patrick Moynihan Jr., board chair. “We’re working with local health officials to monitor the situation and what steps to take next.”

The change of venue to the library was due to Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich making the decision late Tuesday afternoon, March 17, prohibiting the board from holding its meeting in the council chambers where it’s normally held.

The library’s auditorium was utilized because it’s more open.

For social distancing purposes, those in attendance had to sit in seats 6 feet apart from others.

Brown County health officials Erik Pritzl and Ann Steinberger discussed the growing concern of COVID-19.

“Things are changing daily,” said Pritzl, executive director of Health and Human Services for Brown County. “Earlier in the day, we had our first confirmed case in the county, now with the second confirmed case, we’re in the process of assessing and investigating. The situation has changed from what we first envisioned, and now we’re at the point of more active management through the emergency operations center being activated.”

Pritzl said the emergency operations center began Saturday, March 14, at Level 4 and was moved to Level 3 March 18.

“We’ve established a command post at the Sophie Beaumont Building,” he said. “That’s where our public health team is handling most of the operations. We’re trying to work together with the other public health agencies in Brown County. This is going to require the help of many agencies. With what we’ve seen with other communities and the size of where this is going, we need to be ready.”

Pritzl said he’s acting as the area commander and working with the incident management team to sketch out mission plans.

“We’re working on developing an alternate care site, if and when this is needed,” he said. “We’re also working on an alternate quarantine site – again, if and when needed. We’re taking some of the things we’ve had in place the last few years, starting to move forward and seeing if we have to change or adapt anything.”

Pritzl said he feels Brown County has good resources and is ideally positioned with the support in the community.
“This is a wonderful and strong community,” he said. “There are lots of great people who will help us.”

Steinberger, Brown County public nurse manager, said the county is currently doing what will happen once the area gets more confirmed cases.

“Brown County completed its pandemic plan in 2003, with the team continuing to meet quarterly,” Steinberger said. “We’ve dealt with H1N1, Ebola and Zika. This past December, we hosted a respiratory and GI outbreak training for long-term healthcare facilities. In January, we began hosting weekly webinars related to COVID-19. We’ve also increased our social media presence, focusing on immediate prevention and steps our community can take.”

Steinberger said interviews will be conducted with persons who are confirmed to find out the source.

“We will find out where they’ve been – what hospital or clinic, what school, were they on an airline, who they’ve been in contact with – and then let those entities know they were in exposure. Then we’d work with quarantining those persons with a potential contact.”

Steinberger said she’s confident the area will do a good job.

“We need to do our part to flatten the curve, reduced the strain on the healthcare system and protect our most vulnerable populations,” she said. “Strategies such as social distancing, good hand washing and covering your cough are proven methods to help control and flatten the curve.”

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