Dane County, school districts announce student mental health work group

Dane County executive Joe Parisi speaks about the need to address K-12 student mental health needs during a press conference on Thursday, Oct. 29, at Verona Area High School. The county, along with multiple school districts, will band together to form a work group to address student mental health admidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Public Health Madison and Dane County has released a new order limiting gatherings to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 that has few changes from the current order.

Those changes include allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people, as long as there is physical distancing, and drive-in activities can offer outdoor seating.

The county’s Order No. 11, which was instituted December 16, was ordered to last for 28 days and expires later this week. The changes included in the new order will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Jan. 13, according to a news release from PHMDC.

“The number of people being diagnosed with COVID-19 remains very high and new, more contagious virus variants are circulating in the world and United States,” PHMDC director Janel Heinrich said in the news release. “We know spending time outside with others is less risky than spending time together inside, so we have raised gathering limits outside in recognition of this research.”

Restaurants will be required to stay at 25% capacity, but to be deemed a restaurant versus a tavern, businesses will be able to submit receipts from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2020, rather than the entire year prior to July 1, according to the release.

The new order will still have the same requirements as past orders, which require masks for people over the age of 5 in enclosed buildings or outdoors at a restaurant, indoor gatherings limited to 10 people and prohibited indoor seating at taverns. People are encouraged to limit their indoor gatherings with those outside of their home to continue to reduce COVID-19 transmission.

“Although we still have a high burden of disease, Dane County is doing better than the state in both (the) number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 and dying of COVID-19. This shows the success of our orders in preventing illness and saving lives,” said Dane County executive Joe Parisi in the release.

Email reporter Kimberly Wethal at kimberly.wethal@wcinet.com and follow her on Twitter @kimberly_wethal.