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Visitors, Some Residents Told to Stay Away Due To COVID-19

March 25, 2020

With the diagnosed spread of the COVID-19 virus still fairly limited in the northwoods of Wisconsin, some county boards have now issued inter-county travel advisories, essentially telling seasonal homeowners to stay away.

Langlade County has become the latest to do so, joining the lead of Sawyer, Vilas and Oneida Counties in this area and Bayfield and Ashland counties to the north.

Tuesday, Langlade County issued its own travel advisory recommendation, coming from its recently activated Unified Command Team, urging those seasonal homeowners to stay in their winter homes amid the outbreak.

“The main focus is to protect the health of our staff and the residents of the county and the country by implementing the best practices,” Langlade County Manager Dennis Clark said.

The recommendation is extremely similar to others previously adopted elsewhere.

The Unified Command Team was recently formed when the County Board declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19. The UCT is delegated general authority with the board rules temporarily suspended.

Many northern counties are flush with lake-front and vacation properties, with a plethora of residents from southern Wisconsin and beyond spending good portions of the warm weather months in the northwoods.

Here in Langlade County, the Elcho area is ripe with lakes and seasonal homes and closer to Antigo the Bass Lake area certainly comes to mind as well.
 

With many laid off of work due to the outbreak and children out of school, some may be having thoughts of venturing north to “isolate” while others arrive for the warmer days ahead in April.

Now they have a message, it’s “stay away” at least for now.

Langlade, Sawyer, Oneida and Vilas Counties all noted their senior populations in their advisory, both among the highest in the state. Older adults is one of the most vulnerable populations to COVID-19.

While the effects of the coronavirus are relatively mild on most younger people, they can be devastating and deadly to elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

Another issue is the limited healthcare infrastructure in the area, and its ability to handle an influx of coronavirus patients.

The resolutions also went as far as to say anyone already back in their respective county should self-isolate for 14 days. With the majority of Wisconsin cases coming from the Milwaukee and Dane County areas, the hope is to not bring the virus north.

Northern Wisconsin is also a very popular travel and vacation destination for Illinois residents.

Both Wisconsin and Illinois are now currently under versions of a shelter-in-place order, including Governor Evers’ “Safer at Home Order” and the Illinois governor’s “Stay at Home” order.

“They had a stay at home order before we did so they should not be coming to Wisconsin,” Gov. Evers recently told WAOW-TV. “Whether they are from Minnesota or Illinois and you have a second home in Wisconsin we have the same expectations for you.”

How enforceable those orders are remains to be seen, but those are meant to restrict non-essential travel and essentially also keep homeowners away from seasonal properties.

The biggest issue in transmitting the virus seems to be those who are infected, but are unaware, who travel and transmit to healthy individuals.

To view the Langlade County Travel Advisory, click here.

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