Monday, March 23, 2020

Oshkosh doctor warns that coronavirus situation is worse than what Winnebago County stats show

Source: Scientific Animations via Wikimedia Commons
This article been updated with comments from the county Health Department.
By Miles Maguire
A local doctor is warning over social media that the COVID-19 situation in Winnebago County is much worse than what is reflected in official statistics.

“DON”T BELIEVE THE NUMBERS OF ONLY 5 Cases in Winnebago,” Dr. Jennifer Norden wrote in a Facebook post Monday morning. "Itʼs way more than that.”

As of Sunday evening, the county Health Department reported 140 COVID-19 tests administered. While half of these have come back as negative, 65 are still pending.

"With a number of tests pending and knowledge that not all persons are tested, it is reasonable to assume there are more cases in Winnebago County than what is currently confirmed by laboratories," said county Health Director Doug Gieryn.

"At this time, the Health Department is only notified of tests ordered by physicians and the results of those tests as they become available," he said. "The Health Department is not informed when a physician advises self-quarantine or suspects COVID-19 illness without testing."

“Every day COVID testing rules change, but everyday there is not enough testing to know how many fires we have in the Fox Valley,” Norden warned.

“Hospitals are scrambling to create more inpatient rooms, isolation rooms, gather and conserve PPE, ventilators and get ready for what’s sure to come.”

Norden’s full post can be found here.

Gieryn emphasized the importance of community members following the new "safer at home" order announced today by Gov. Evers.

"We urge our community to take the necessary steps to physically distance from others," Gieryn said.

He added: "Do not go out in public unless absolutely necessary for food, medical care or other essential needs. We must all do our part to ensure the safety of our most vulnerable residents and not overwhelm our healthcare system resources. By not staying away from others, we undermine all the effort and economic sacrifice so many are making at this time."

Norden works at ThedaCare Physicians in Neenah and specializes in internal medicine. She has lived in Oshkosh since 1999.

Norden urged residents to heed the advice for residents to stay home if at all possible. She wrote:

If you are in high risk groups—STAY HOME and limit contact with others to those who also STAY HOME.
If you are not in high risk groups—STAY HOME so you don’t infect people.
I hear teenagers are still getting together in large group—please don’t. Parents—don’t let them. One other person for a walk outdoors is safe.
I hear young children are still being taken to playgrounds—please don’t.
If you are a business owner—CLOSE if your services are non-essential
If your services are essential, make sure your vulnerable employees are not in contact with people or high risk places.
If your business can be repurposed to make face shields, face masks, ventilators, oxygen tanks, etc PLEASE do it. If we act like this NOW, we may have a chance of not overwhelming our local hospitals. Everyday that we don’t take these measures, the virus spreads like invisible fire and things will be much worse—both medically and economically.


  1. I'm a delivery driver and local nurses have stated there are no tests. That you literally have to be dying but you dont want someone to get to that point. Where are the tests? My son was sick with all symptoms other than fever they just sent him home.

  2. Everyone, including the governor is saying to shelter in place. What about children that have split custody with the child, who is sheltered and lives in Winnebago county. The father lives in WI Rapids- is this child supposed to be driven to WI Rapids, an hour-and-a-half away to go for the weekend to a home where people are going all over, not abiding by the ‘rules’ put in place and possibly be exposed by or expose a large group? Is this child to go?

  3. The shelter at home order that was put in place absolutely covers travel that is mandated by a court order such as transferring custody for visitation. So yes he absolutely is supposed to go and if there's a court order for visitation you absolutely are obligated to take him you do not have an option. You absolutely should be getting in writing an agreement between yourself and the other parent that the child will be kept at home and this bill will be maintained for his safety. And yes an agreement by text message count as in writing.