This content is accurate as of March 6, 2020. For the most up to date information about coronavirus, see the Public Health Madison & Dane County website


Preparing for the Spread of Coronavirus 

While your chances of getting sick from coronavirus (COVID-19) in Wisconsin are low right now, this is the time to prepare for widespread illness in the future. This is a new virus, and with that comes some anxiety, but sticking to basic public health prevention practices is very effective in helping us all stay healthy.

By preparing ourselves for the possibility of coronavirus spreading, we can:

  • Limit the spread of illness: Limiting contact with other people lowers how many people may catch the virus.
  • Help protect others: Help protect those in our community who are more vulnerable, like the elderly and people with chronic disease, who may be more likely to experience serious complications or death.
  • Reduce strain on the healthcare system: The more precautions people take to not get sick, the less strain on our healthcare system.

What you can do to stay healthy

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. Wash your hands afterwards.
  • Wash hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, like doorknobs, remotes, refrigerator handles, and sink handles.
  • Avoid shaking hands or getting in someone’s personal space.
  • Stay home if you are sick, and avoid contact with others who are sick.
  • If you haven’t gotten your flu shot, do so now. Flu is circulating widely in our community. Getting a flu shot lessens your odds of being hospitalized for flu, which frees up hospitals for people who may get sick from coronavirus.

How you can prepare

  • Just like when you prepare for a big snowstorm, stock supplies now so you don’t have to leave home to get them if illness is widespread in our community. Buy items you’d need to stay home for a week or two, like non-perishable food, tissues, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies. Don’t forget daily medications, fever reducing medicine, and supplies for your pets.
  • Learn about plans and policies for work and kids’ schools if an outbreak of illness occurs. Can you work from home? Who can take care of your kids if they need to stay home?
  • Think about ways you can minimize your amount of time in crowds. Can you reduce trips to the store? Can you order items online for delivery? Can you sit farther away from people on the bus?

What employers can do

  • Create plans now for limiting face-to-face interactions in the workplace; use conference calls and video conferencing.
  • Create a business continuity plan, which details how to provide essential services if a number of employees are sick or unavailable.
  • See publichealthmdc.com/coronavirus for a factsheet with many more tips.

What Public Health Madison & Dane County is doing

  • Monitoring travelers and people who may have had contact with someone with coronavirus. Read blog posts about our role in monitoring and responding to coronavirus: publichealthmdc.com/blog.
  • Coordinating with partners in public health, health care, local schools, higher education, and labs—sometimes daily—in order to map out processes, outline our unique roles, and share information.
  • Planning ahead and helping our community prepare if coronavirus spreads more widely in our community, including partnering with state and CDC officials on when to shut down schools and public events. 

When we all pull together as a community to prepare for widespread illness, we protect ourselves, our families, those who are more vulnerable, and those providing services and care to us. Stay tuned as this situation progresses by following us on social media (@publichealthmdc), checking our regularly updated website (publichealthmdc.com/coronavirus), and calling our information line (608) 243-0587.

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