Door County Reports Second COVID-19 Death, Brown County Outbreak Surges

Door County reported its second death related to COVID-19 on April 27, a patient in their 70s. The Door County Public Health Department did not release further details about the case. 

The county reported two additional cases of COVID-19 as well, bringing the total to 12 as of April 29. 

In neighboring Brown County, the outbreak has continued to surge, with more than 920 cases as of press time. The outbreak is centered on the JBS meat-packing plant, located about 25 minutes south of Brussels. 

Despite the surge in Green Bay cases, Rep. Joel Kitchens assured listeners at an April 28 town-hall meeting that he believes Door County is likely at or past its peak in the COVID-19 battle. 

“In my conversations with medical professionals, they feel like if [Door County] were going to have a big surge, [the county] would have had it by now,” Kitchens said. But he cautioned that residents should continue to take the virus seriously. 

“No matter when we open, the virus is still going to be here,” he said. “We are still going to need to be social distancing.” 

Dr. Jim Heise, chief medical officer at Door County Medical Center, spoke about the severity of the virus during an April 27 Facebook Live session. 

“The two patients who passed away were the sickest patients I have ever come across in my career,” he said. “It really gives me a healthy respect … If people get sick from this, it can do all kinds of things to the body.”

Wisconsin now reports more than 6,300 cases of COVID-19 and 300 deaths. The Associated Press reports that 51 cases in the state have been traced to the April 7 election.

Heise said the outbreaks at meat-packing plants in Brown County are an indication of how the virus spreads through people working in close quarters. 

“One person gets sick and comes to work, and infects others, and then it works backward to the families of those workers when they get home,” he said. 

During the Facebook Live session with Door County Public Health Manager Sue Powers, she and Heise confirmed that no cases have been tied to long-term-care centers in Door County. 

Wisconsin State Parks Reopen, Adjust Hours

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced that all state parks will reopen with limitations. Recent closures did not affect any of Door County’s five state parks, but the new rules will: State parks and forests will now be open 6 am – 7 pm daily, a change from the previous hours of 6 am – 11 pm. Properties will also be closed every Wednesday for maintenance and upkeep. 

Gibraltar School Board President Steps Down

Longtime Gibraltar School Board member Mark Weborg stepped down as president at the beginning of the April 27 virtual board meeting, citing the stress of the position. Weborg, who has served on the board for 21 years, will remain on the board as a member until his term ends in April 2021.

“I have one more year in my term to serve Gibraltar schools, and I felt it would be good to have this time to help transition someone else into the new leadership position,” Weborg said.

Weborg nominated newly re-elected board member and former Gibraltar Superintendent Stephen Seyfer to fill the role as president. Other officers who were elected included Mike Peot as vice president, Don Helm as treasurer, Angela Sherman as clerk and Evelyn Eckhardt as secretary.

The meeting’s packed agenda caused the meeting to run about five hours. 

County Adjusts Campground Rules

The Door County Public Health Department has adjusted its rules for campgrounds. On April 15, the department had ordered all campgrounds closed, but that has been adjusted to accommodate many long-term camping establishments. 

The new order allows sites with their own bathrooms, kitchens and showers to open, limited to a single household. Use of common areas for gathering is prohibited, including exercise facilities, hot tubs, pools and showers. 

Birch Creek Cancels Summer Season

Add Birch Creek to the list of performing-arts organizations that have canceled their 2020 summer season. Birch Creek brings staff and students from across the country and abroad each summer, housing many in dorms and performing 30 concerts June 1 – Aug. 10. 

“We are devastated that we will not have the opportunity to share that Birch Creek legacy this summer,” said Executive Director Mona Christensen, “but we are prepared to meet this challenge with creativity, with families, students, patrons, donors, faculty, sponsors and volunteers in mind.” 

Midsummer’s Music has delayed ticket sales as well and anticipates adjustments to programming as the COVID-19 emergency continues. Existing ticket holders may make a full or partial donation of their tickets, request a refund or a 2021 season credit, or exchange their tickets for another event later this year by calling 920.854.7088.

Relief for Cultural Organizations

Wisconsin’s humanities and cultural organizations may now apply for financial relief from the Wisconsin Humanities Council through its  Wisconsin Humanities CARES Relief Grant program, which will distribute close to $540,000 in federal relief funding to help organizations weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learn about eligibility and apply for grants of up to $10,000 at The first-round deadline is May 15, and award decisions will be announced by June 5. 

The relief funds were authorized by the federal CARES Act through the National Endowment for the Humanities and are intended to support the general operating costs of smaller humanities and cultural organizations.

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