Local officials urge public to stay at home following record breaking number of COVID-19 deaths in Dane County

MADISON, Wis. – Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and PHMDC Director Janel Heinrich joined in a joint press conference Wednesday afternoon, where they urged people to stay at home following a record breaking number of COVID-19 deaths in the month of November.

“We know the post-Thanksgiving surge will hit us while our hospitals are already at capacity,” Parisi said. “It will be a surge upon a surge.”

Parisi also took time to criticize Republican Lawmakers like Robin Vos, who he said has not done enough to help slow the spread.

“Until the vaccine is widely available, our public health orders and guidelines will remain our best resources in reducing suffering and death caused by this virus,” Parisi said.

On Wednesday, Dane County added 22 additional COVID-19 deaths, nearly one-fifth of the deaths since the start of the pandemic. Leaders there say it was a system update that resulted in reporting of the cluster of deaths, which date back to late October and span the course of four weeks.

Regardless, it doubles Dane County’s deaths for the month of November, toppling more than 40.

Health experts say the deaths we’re seeing now are the result of a two-month long surge in cases, beginning in October.

“We are seeing more deaths now that we have seen throughout the pandemic,” said Dr. Nasia Safdar, Medical Director and Infection Prevention Specialist at UW Health.

Despite the surge in deaths, new cases of Coronavirus are down nearly half over the last two weeks. Safdar says this doesn’t mean deaths are going to stop. In fact, she says cases spread over the Thanksgiving holiday could still take another week to register in new cases.

“We were bracing ourselves that following thanksgiving, the situation would get worse. I can’t quite say we’re out of the woods yet,” she said.