Childcare proves critical for essential employees
After previously restricting the size of all Wisconsin childcare settings, additional changes were handed down March 24, in response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic. Centers may not operate with more than 10 staff present at a time and may not operate with more than 50 children present at a time.
Centers must also prioritize care for families of Tier 1 employees, contractors and other support staff working in healthcare, as well as Tier 2 families. Tier 2 is determined as staff in vital areas such as military, long-term care, residential care, pharmacies, child welfare, government operations, public safety and critical infrastructure, and supply chain operations.
The restrictions remain in effect for the duration of the public health emergency, declared by Executive Order 72.
“Childcare is an essential service for many of the folks working on the front lines to provide healthcare and vital services to our communities during the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Gov. Tony Evers. “This is another step forward to ensure that service continues, while protecting our childcare providers who are going above and beyond their regular duties, to support our families, communities and state.”
Baby Bloomers Learning Center in Cadott, has given families the option to keep their children at home, which
See CHILDCARE/ Page 3 some have taken advantage of. Owner Evah Hamilton says staff at the childcare center are also implementing cleaning practices to keep everyone safe.
“We’ve been cleaning and disinfecting like crazy,” she said.
Tammy Morgal, owner of Kids First Childcare in Cornell, says she has had some kids stay at home, as their parents are teachers and no longer have school. With the drop in kids, she has openings available if other centers close or have to give preference to the above named workers.
“I might have some new kids coming in, I might not,” said Morgal.
Per the governor, people need to avoid social gatherings with people of all ages, including playdates and sleepovers, parties, large family dinners, visitors in the home and non-essential workers in the house.
Frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water is also a good idea, as is covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding touching the face and staying home when sick.
Currently, there have been 457 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the state, while five people have died from the virus. Preventions have been put in place to stem the tide, as the state can benefit from experiences of others who have gone through the worst of the pandemic.
Andrea Palm, Department of Health Services secretary-designee, said if nothing was done to slow the spread, it’s estimated that by April 8, Wisconsin would have 22,000 people who tested positive, meaning 400-1,000 deaths. Numbers in that range would exceed the available hospital beds in the state.
There are no vaccines or medications that can prevent, or cure, COVID-19.
“The only tool we have, is physical separation,” said Palm. “I implore you, stay at home.”