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

Questions? Call the Washburn County Health Department at 715-635-4400 


Click here for COVID-19 Vaccine Information
**information on vaccine clinics at the Washburn County Health Department located on the COVID-19 Vaccine Information page
Click here
 for local Influenza Vaccine locations

FREE home antigen tests are available at the Health Department, while supplies last. Each kit contains TWO (2) tests. We request that you do not pick up more than one kit per household member. If you need additional tests later, you may return for more. 

Tests can be picked up at the Health Department between 8:00AM and 4:30PM Monday through Friday. You are not required to call ahead, but we recommend calling to confirm that tests are still available prior to making the trip to our office.

Location: 2nd Floor, Washburn County Services Center - 304 2nd St. Shell Lake, WI 54871
Phone: 715-635-4400


CDC Community Levels Map - a measure on the current impact of COVID-19 illness on health and healthcare systems. Click here for more information on mitigation measures based on the current level. 

Safety Recommendations and Resources:
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation's COVID-19 Business Resources 
COVID-19 Resources for Parents and Guardians - Wisconsin Department of Health Services
Staying Safe in Your Community - Wisconsin Department of Health Services
How to Protect Yourself & Others - CDC
Guidance for Gatherings - CDC 

Data Links:
DHS COVID-19 Wisconsin Summary Data
DHS COVID-19 Activity Level Map 
DHS COVID-19 Vaccine Data
DHS COVID-19 Illness After Vaccination Data

DHS COVID-19 Understanding the Data 
CDC COVID Data Tracker

Testing for COVID-19 (updated 05/23/2022)

  • Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 or anyone who believes they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 is encouraged to seek testing
    • You must call for testing prior to visiting the clinic you are seeking testing at.
    • DO NOT show up to a clinic or ER without calling the facility prior to your arrival.
    • Individuals are encouraged to call their Primary Care Provider to be tested or seek testing a community testing site.
  • **The Washburn County Health Department is no longer offering PCR testing due to changes in the State Testing program.
    Free Home Antigen tests are still available.
  • Community Testing Site (free PCR testing) - Economart Pharmacy, Spooner
    All tests are PCR (this is not a rapid test). Results should be expected within 24-48 hours after collection, based on lab capacity
    When: Monday through Friday 10AM-2PM
    Where: Schmitz's Economart Pharmacy DRIVE UP ONLY

    Appointments are not required, but pre-registration is preferred. Do not register more than 72 hours before your intended testing date. Register in advance: https://register.covidconnect.wi.gov/en-US/
    *Economart Pharmacy reserves the right to limit the number of daily tests performed
  • Indianhead Medical Center/Shell Lake Clinic: 715-468-2711 **open to current patients and/or Washburn County residents only
    Essentia Health: Start an online screening visit through Essentia Health
    Marshfield Clinic (any location): Schedule online or call 844-342-6276 
    Prevea Rice Lake: Click to visit their website and set up an appointment
    Additional information on testing options and community-based testing sites available on the DHS website **open to all members of the community, free of charge. 
  • The Minnesota Department of Health operates the DECC (Duluth) saliva testing site, open to Wisconsin residents. To be tested at this location, click to schedule an appointment.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources will suspend ordering of free at-home COVID-19 tests after Friday, September 2, due to a lack of additional funding to replenish the nation's stockpile of tests. Order free tests before the Friday deadline at the COVID.gov website or call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489)
  • The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) has launched an online portal for Wisconsinites to order free at-home rapid COVID-19 tests directly to their homes. Orders can now be placed on the Say Yes to COVID Test webpage. Initial supplies allow for one package of tests to be ordered per address. Each package includes a total of five tests. 
  • If you have been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting results, isolate at home until you receive your results.

Instructions for individuals with COVID-19 (updated 05/23/2022)

  • If you DO NOT have symptoms...
    • Isolate for five (5) days. 
    • Release from isolation after day five (5)
    • Wear a well-fitting mask around others and in public for five (5) more days after leaving isolation
    • The total time of isolation + mask wearing after isolation equals 10 full days after your positive test specimen was collected
  • If you DO have symptoms
    • Isolate for at least five (5) days
    • If after five (5) days, you have no symptoms or your symptoms are significantly improving AND you have been fever free for at least 24 hours, you can leave isolation but you must wear a well-fitting mask around others and in public for five (5) more days** 
      **The total time of isolation + mask wearing after isolation equals at least 10 full days after your symptom onset
  • The best approach to ending isolation is to retest with an antigen test on day 5. If you test negative, you may leave isolation (following the instructions above). If you test positive, continue to isolate through day 10
  • SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY if you experience: 
    • trouble breathing
    • persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • new confusion or inability to arouse (wake) a person
    • bluish lips or face
    • Note: this list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning
  • Notify your close contacts that you have tested positive and give them instructions to self-quarantine and/or monitor (instructions listed further down this page). 
  • Tips on managing COVID-19 symptoms at home
  • CDC Recommendations for people with COVID-19
  • Not sure how long you may need to isolate? Use the CDC's Quarantine and Isolation Calculator 

What to do if you were exposed to COVID-19: (updated 08/14/2022)
If you were exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 or have been told by a healthcare provider or public health authority that you were exposed, here are the steps that you should take, regardless of your vaccination status or if you have had a previous infection. Learn how COVID-19 spreads and the factors that make risk of spread higher or lowerYou can call the Health Department at 715-635-4400 for specific contact-related questions

  • After being exposed to COVID-19, start precautions immediately. 
    • Wear a mask as soon as you find out you were exposed. Start counting from Day 1 (day zero is the day of your last exposure, day 1 is the first full day after your last exposure)
  • Continue precautions for 10 full days
    • Wear a high quality mask or respirator (i.e. N95) any time you are around others inside your home or indoors in public
      • Do not go places where you are unable to wear a mask, including travel and public transportation settings. 
    • Watch for symptoms
    • If you develop symptoms: 
      • isolate immediately
      • get tested
      • stay home until you know the result 
      • if your test result is positive, follow the isolation recommendations
  • Take extra precautions if you will be around people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 

Wisconsin Exposure Notification App (updated 12/23/2020)
WI Exposure Notification is a smartphone app that uses Bluetooth Low Energy technology(link is external) to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin. Once you activate the app, your phone exchanges anonymous signals with other phones that are near it for at least 15 minutes. If somebody who has the app tests positive for COVID-19, they can then send an alert using the app to those other phones. This will allow people who are close contacts to quickly get the care they need and avoid exposing others to the virus.

The WI Exposure Notification app is available to download for free from the Google Play Store or enable in Settings on your iPhone. The more people who use the app, the faster we can stop the spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin. More information is available on the WI DHS website.

Updates from Our Local Providers
Essentia Health - Spooner Clinic
Hayward Area Memorial Hospital
Northlakes Community Clinic
Marshfield Clinic
Mayo Clinic Health System 
Prevea Rice Lake

Frequently Asked Questions (updated 05/23/2022)

Why might Washburn County Health Department guidance be different than CDC guidance? 

  • The Washburn County Health Department is obligated by Wisconsin Law [Statute 252.03(3)] to follow Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) policies in place regarding COVID-19 and other communicable diseases. 

What do I need to do if I have been tested for COVID-19 and am waiting for the results?

  • You must isolate at home until you receive your test results. 

What are the different types of tests and how long does it take to get results?

  • There are two types of tests used to diagnose COVID-19: Molecular (confirmatory) and Antigen (non-confirmatory)
    • Molecular tests are the most accurate type of test used to diagnose active COVID-19 infection by detecting the virus's genetic material. These tests are often referred to as PCR or NAAT tests and use nasopharyngeal, nasal, or throat swabs in the majority of tests, with some tests using salvia. Samples must be analyzed in a reference lab. Molecular tests can take anywhere from a day (in some locations) to a week (depending on the capacity of the reference lab) to return results. Positive results from molecular tests result in "confirmed" case status. 
    • Antigen tests detect specific proteins from the virus and are less accurate than molecular tests. Positive results are usually highly accurate, particularly in symptomatic individuals, but providers may order a confirmatory molectular test in situations where a symptomatic individual tests negative OR where an asymptomatic individual tests positive, depending on the circumstances leading to testing. Antigen tests can return results in as fast as 15-30 minutes using nasal or nasopharyngeal swabs, depending on the specific test used. Positive results from antigen tests result in "probable" case status. 
  • Antibody tests may show if you have been infected by COVID-19 in the past. These tests are run using blood samples and have varying degrees of accuracy. Antibody tests cannot be used to diagnose COVID-19. Researchers do not know how long antibodies stay in the body following infection by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and do not know if antibodies give you protective immunity against the virus. Individuals who have had a previous COVID-19 infection are advised to continue taking protective measures, such as physical distancing, mask wearing, and hand hygiene.
  • More information about COVID-19 tests can be found in this FDA fact sheet or this DHS publication

What is the difference between a Confirmed case and a Probable case? 

  • Cases are classified using the national case definition established by CDC and the CSTE (Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists). 
  • Confirmed: individuals who have a positive molecular test result detecting the SARS-CoV-2 virus (see testing information above), with or without the presence of symptoms.  
  • Probable: individuals with a postive non-confirmatory test (antigen, see testing information above) OR close contacts of lab confirmed cases who have developed symptoms but have not been tested

How are COVID-19 deaths reported?

  • Cases are classified using the national case definition established by CDC and the CSTE (Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists). 
  • COVID-19 Deaths: deaths among confirmed cases of COVID-19 that meet the vital records criteria set forth by the CDC and Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) case definition. Those are deaths that have a death certificate that lists COVID-19 disease or SARS-CoV-2 as an underlying cause of death or a significant condition contributing to death. 
  • Probable Deaths: deaths among probable cases of COVID-19 that meet at least one of the following criteria:
    • test positive using an antigen test method
    • have symptoms of COVID-19 AND known exposure to COVID-19, meeting the national case definition of a probable case (linked above)
    • COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 is listed on the death certificate
  • Deaths among people with COVID-19 that were the result of non-COVID reasons (e.g., accident, overdose, etc.) are not included as a COVID-19 death or a Probable death.

Why did masking guidance for fully vaccinated individuals change?

  • Previous CDC guidance allowing fully vaccinated individuals to resume all normal activites without the use of masks was based on evidence from previously circulating strains of the COVID-19 virus that showed lower risk of transmission to others by a vaccinated individual if they contracted the virus. 
  • The main circulating variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus are known to be significanly more infectious than previously circulating variants. 
  • Fully vaccinated individuals are still at a lower risk of contracting the virus and have significant protection against hospitalization and death compared to unvaccinated individuals. 

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

If I wear a mask in public, do I still need to practice social distancing?

  • YES! Social distancing is the most important tool we have to try to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • There is growing evidence to suggest that wearing cloth face coverings in public can reduce the spread of COVID-19 by infected people. It acts as a physical barrier between your cough/sneeze/spit and the air. The virus can spread before people show symptoms or while they are showing mild symptoms. This helps to protect the people around you. Social distancing will protect you.
  • Wearing a cloth face covering does not reduce immune system function or increase Carbon Dioxide (CO2) to a level noticeable by the wearer.
  • Tips for making your earloop mask fit tighter

Should I cancel my travel plans?

Are there resources to support my Mental Health?