Coronavirus Outbreak

For up-to-date information on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) website or the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website. The federal government (White House, CDC, and HHS) has also launched a website specifically for COVID-19. 

Washburn County has activated 2-1-1 to assist the general public with questions related to COVID-19. You can dial 2-1-1 or visit their website for more information. 

View resources for talking to children about COVID-19.

For Washburn County COVID-19 News Releases and Information for County Residents and Businesses

For questions, call the Washburn County Health Department at 715-635-4400


Read the "SAFER AT HOME" Order effective 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 until 8:00 a.m. on Friday, April 24, 2020, or until a supersceding order is issued. All individuals present within the State of Wisconsin are ordered to stay at home or at their place of residence, with exceptions outlined in the order. 


Mental Health Resources

We know this is a stressful time for everyone. Here are some resources specifically related to COVID-19:


If you are sick... (updated 3/20/2020 @ 3:00 p.m.)

  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, dry cough, shortness of breath) and are concerned about needed testing, please contact your Primary Care Provider for screening and to determine if you need to be tested. Testing may not be recommended at this time if you have mild symptoms that are managable at home. Your provider may instead recommend that you self-isolate.
  • If screening indicates you may have COVID-19 but a provider determines a test is not the best option OR you do not feel you need to contact a provider for your symptoms but are concerned about having COVID-19 stay in isolation until:
    •  3 days (72 hours) have passed since having a fever without using fever-reducing medications
    • AND improvement of respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath)
    • AND at least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared
  • If you are feeling ill, regardless of if you believe you have COVID-19, it is best to practice social distancing and isolate yourself as much as possible until symptoms have stopped. Influenza and other respiratory diseases are still active and social distancing will help prevent the spread of all of these diseases.
  • See the DHS guidance on what to do if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Tips on managing respiratory symptoms at home

Testing for COVID-19 (updated 3/20/2020 @ 8:30 a.m.)

  • If you do not have symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, dry cough, shortness of breath) you WILL NOT be tested for it.
  • Testing is not recommended for people with mild illnesses for which they would not normally seek medical care, such as having only mild upper respiratory symptoms. If you have mild symptoms that are manageable at home, your doctor may recommend you remain at home under self-isolation to prevent the spread to others. 
  • DHS is limiting its testing at the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene (WSLH) and Milwaukee Health Department Laboratory (MHDL) to the highest priority patients and health care workers.
  • Providers are able to order tests through private labs at their discretion for patients that they determine should be tested but do not meet the criteria for testing at WSLH or MHDL.
  • Individuals concerned about their symptoms should contact their Primary Care Provider for screening to determine if they should be tested.
  • DO NOT show up to a clinic or ER without calling the facility prior to your arrival.


Updates from Our Local Providers

Essentia - Spooner Clinic

Northlakes Community Clinic

Spooner Health

Marshfield Clinic

Mayo Clinic Health System


Frequently Asked Questions (updated 3/23/2020  at 12:00 p.m.)

Are there confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Washburn County? 

  • As of 12:00 p.m. Monday, March 30, 2020 there have been 0 (zero) positive test results for COVID-19 in Washburn County. If a case is confirmed in the county, the Health Department will communicate this with the public.
  • For current cases in Wisconsin by county and a total count of tests in Wisconsin, visit the DHS outbreak page

How are you reporting cases to the public?

  • At this time we are not reporting numbers of people tested in order to protect patient privacy while living in a small community.
  • We are reporting laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19, following guidance from WI DHS and CDC. We understand that there are concerns about testing protocol missing cases, but we cannot speculate on potential exposed persons that are not reported to clinics or public health. 

Will you be reporting numbers of people tested? 

  • We understand the concerns about testing, however we do not want to see individuals being accused of having COVID-19. In order to help protect privacy and potential patients from facing stigma, we do not feel comfortable releasing that information. If individuals wish to make public their testing status it is their right to do so.
  • The general public should be focusing on practicing social distancing rather than numbers tested. Testing capacity is limited at the moment due to shortages in the reagents required for running tests, thus tests may be sent out but we may not get results until after the isolation period has ended for a suspected case.
  • We work with individuals who require isolation and will not be releasing numbers regarding isolation to protect patient privacy.
  • WI DHS has stated that not all individuals are going to be tested at this time. They have instructed that the public should act as though COVID-19 is active in their community and take the social distancing and hygiene steps necessary to protect themselves.

What should I do if someone I know has been diagnosed with COVID-19?

  • Follow guidance from DHS on what to do if you have had contact with someone who was diagnosed, if there is a diagnosed case in your home, or if you have been diagnosed. 

Is there community spread in Wisconsin?

  • WI DHS has recognized that COVID-19 is spreading throughout Wisconsin. 
  • CDC has recognized community spread in defined areas in Wisconsin. 
  • Visit CDC's updates on cases in the US for states recognized as having sustained community transmission.

Should I cancel my travel plans?

  • WI DHS recommends Wisconsin residents cancel or postpone all nonessentail travel, including travel within the state, in compliance with the Safer at Home order. All individuals who spend time outside of their home and/or local community have some risk of exposure to COVID-19. If international or domestic travel cannot be avoided, be prepared to remain away for an extended period of time if travel restrictions change or if you become sick. 
  • Older adults and people at risk for serious illness from COVID-19 should avoid all travel within and outside of your community in order to minimize contact with others.
  • Travel to locations with a Level 3 Travel Notice and travel on cruise ships are not considered safe at this time due to widespread transmission of COVID-19 in these areas. People who travel to these areas despite this recommendation should be prepared to encounter significant delays in returning home. 
  • Check CDC's recommendations regarding travel within the US and current CDC travel health notices.

Am I blocked from going to my second/vacation home in Washburn County?

  • The Washburn County Health Department issued a travel advisory for second/seasonal homeowners. This advisory does not block you from reaching your property in Washburn County, however we strongly discourage traveling to your second home at this time. This is for your safety and the safety of our rural community. Non-essential travel outside your current community may spread COVID-19 in areas with very limited health care infrastructre. We ask that you follow the Safer at Home order and refrain from non-essential travel to your second/vacation home at this time.
  • If you choose to travel to a second/vacation home, you should be prepared to immediately self-quarantine for 14 days. You should bring your own groceries and essentials, as self-quarantine does not permit shopping at local stores for supplies. 

What do I do if I traveled? 

  • If you traveled anywhere outside of your local community in the past 14 days, you are being asked to stay home and monitor yourself for symptoms for 14 days after you returned. If you were able to practice social distancing during the entire time you were away (for example, you stayed in your car by yourself and kept at least 6 feet distance between yourself and others), you should still monitor your symptoms and practice social distancing.
    • Stay home: it is important that you avoid contact with others to avoid spreading the infection to others ("self-quarantine")
    • Monitor your symptoms: check your temperature twice daily and write down any symptoms you have ("self-monitoring"). If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 like fever, cough, shortness of breath, and need medical care, call your doctor. 
  • Contact the Health Department if you have questions about travel-related quarantine guidelines. 

What is "Social Distancing" and why should I do it?

  • Social distancing is deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. Staying at least six feet away from other people lessens your chance of contracting COVID-19. Examples include: cancelling or postponing conferences and large meetings, not shaking hands, avoiding large group gatherings or activities, and staying home as much as possible.
  • Social distancing can help slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • People should follow simple steps to prevent illness and avoid exposure to this virus including:
    • Avoid social gatherings with people of all ages (including playdates and sleepovers, parties, large family dinners, visitors in your home)
    • Frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water
    • Cover coughs and sneezes
    • Avoid touching your face
    • Stay home when sick

Questions about school closings: 

  • DHS ordered all public and private schools and institutions of higher education to close effective 5:00pm on March 18, 2020 and to remain closed for the duration of the public health emergency or until a subsequent order lifts this specific restriction. 
  • Families should follow guidance from their schools on protocol during the closure. Many schools and local businesses have made free meals available for school-age children during the shut down. 
  • Individuals should continue to practice social distancing. Resources for families from the WI Department of Public Instruction are available here.
  • Access specific school district information and announcements on COVID-19: Shell Lake, Spooner, Northwood, Birchwood


News Releases

Washburn County Health Department: Answering COVID-19 Questions - 03/26/2020

Washburn County Remains Open with Limited Access - 03/24/2020

Washburn County Health Department Advisory to Seasonal and Second Homeowners - 03/23/2020

Protecting Your Mental Health During COVID-19 - 03/20/2020

Safety Precautions for Staff and Washburn County Residents Due to COVID-19 - 03/19/2020

Gov. Evers Urges the Public to Help Keep Our Healthcare Workers Safe - 03/19/2020

Washburn County Issues Declaration Regarding COVID-19 - 03/18/2020

Department of Public Instruction - Social Distancing During School Closures

Ongoing Monitoring of COVID-19 - March 10, 2020


Governor's Executive and Emergency Orders

Emergency Order #16: Related to Certain Health Care Providers and the Department of Safety and Professional Services Credentialing - 03/27/2020

Temporary Ban on Evictions and Foreclosures - 03/27/2020

Emergency Order #12: Safer at Home Order - 03/24/2020

Public Service Commission Administrative Rules Suspensions - 03/22/2020

Department of Public Instruction Administrative Rule Suspension and Emergency Orders - 03/21/2020

Updated Mass Gathering Ban - 03/20/2020

Order to the Department of Workforce Development Regarding Unemployment Insurance - 03/18/2020

Order Restricting the Size of Child Care Settings - 03/18/2020

Order Prohibiting Mass Gatherings of 10 People or More - 03/17/2020

Order Prohibiting Mass Gatherings of 50 People or More - 03/16/2020

Order for Statewide School Closure - 03/12/2020

Executive Order #72 Declaring Health Emergency in Response to COVID-19 - 03/12/2020


For Washburn County COVID-19 News Releases and Information for County Residents