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Columbia County virus cases rise, Portage cancels homecoming
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Columbia County virus cases rise, Portage cancels homecoming

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The Wisconsin National Guard provides free COVID-19 testing for Columbia County residents at the county highway shop Friday. 

Columbia County held its first free COVID-19 testing event Friday, while the county had 65 new virus cases in the last week and Portage School District announced it was canceling homecoming events.

County Public Health Officer Susan Lorenz said no single cause is to blame for the large spike, but a large majority are from family or social gatherings where masks and social distancing did not occur.

Lorenz said most people who tested positive attended gatherings with a large number of people such as weddings, reunions or parties.

As of Friday, the county had 478 total positive tests. There are 73 active cases, with two current hospitalizations. The county had 13,374 people test negative.

Residents aged 20 to 29 years make up the highest percentage of cases in the county at 18.9%.

The Portage School District announced on Facebook this week that all homecoming activities, including the dance and game, are canceled.

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The National Guard provided the testing Friday at the highway shop in Wyocena.

The spike in cases and the testing event do not correlate, as results from the testing will not be available to residents for three to seven days.

Lorenz said the county will monitor the popularity of the free testing event, and will likely provide additional free sites in the future.

The county contracted with Pre-Emergency Planning in Lodi to provide a testing coordinator position, who will work to help the county meet the state’s testing goal.

“Our goal is to establish additional testing sites throughout the county in the next several months,” Lorenz said.

A recent Apple iPhone software update included a COVD-19 exposure tracker that allows users to track levels of exposure to the virus if local health departments opt into the program.

Lorenz said Columbia County would likely not be participate in the program and instead will stick with contact tracing through phone calls.

“I don’t know anything about it. Good old fashioned contact tracing by calling is always the best,” Lorenz said.

Follow Nicole on Twitter @Nicole_Aimone

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