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BREAKING: Wisconsin reports 1,271 coronavirus cases

Tony Evers addresses media in a teleconference March 30.

Wisconsin now has 1,271 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection, according to state and county data, and 18 deaths. The one fatality reported since Sunday was a man in his 40s, Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said.

Dane County reports 187 cases and one fatality. Cases continue to grow fastest in Milwaukee, which now reports 663 cases and 10 deaths.

State Bureau of Communicable Diseases Chief Medical Officer Ryan Westegaard said he remains optimistic that the crisis will peak in about two weeks, and Palm said she expects it’ll be about 10 more days before we see the effects of social distancing in daily case counts. But new projections from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation indicate cases will peak in late April and might overwhelm intensive care units.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said the state is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to prepare field hospitals if necessary, but did not elaborate on where those might be necessary or when.

“Our goal is to do social distancing really well so we don’t overwhelm our hospitals,” Palm said, but “conversations are actively happening” to prepare for a “surge” in cases, including the possibilities of building field hospitals or converting other facilities to take on coronavirus patients.

Palm also said new partnerships with biotech and medical companies like Exact Sciences, Promega, UW Health and Marshfield Clinic will allow the state to double the number of tests that can be administered every day. This will also lead to an increase in the number of confirmed cases.