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This State is Beating Coronavirus and Here's the Secret Why

A controversial reopening strategy may have proved successful.
The Oshkosh Public Library's infamous lions wear face masks as a way to remind its visitors to do so during the COVID-19 pandemic

Across the country, different states have taken various approaches to how they opted to handle the COVID-19 pandemic. While many states took a conservative approach, keeping the majority of businesses closed and implementing stay-at-home orders, others were a bit more lenient.

In the ongoing quest to understand the complicated nature of COVID-19, researchers have been keeping a close eye on where the virus continues to thrive, and other places where numbers of confirmed cases and deaths are in decline. Wisconsin, one of the first states to reopen, stirred up a bit of controversy for deciding to do so, with many health experts worried that the midwestern state was setting themselves up for a health crisis. However, according to new case numbers, they are actually in the process of a major decline. 

Newsweek reports that on Wednesday, when the total number of confirmed cases in the United States hit the 2 million mark, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported its state was currently at 21,593 cases with 671 confirmed deaths—and just 285 new cases. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, this is their lowest percentage of positive tests since the pandemic first began. The percentage of residents who tested positive increased from 1.9 on Tuesday to 2.8 on Wednesday. However, for the past several days the percentage of positive tests has remained below 3 percent, and they have been in a two-week decline. 

What's the Secret to Their (Tentative) Success? 

It could be due to their early reopening. While the state's Democrat Governor, Tony Evers, hoped to keep the state in lockdown mode through May 26, the GOP-led Legislature deemed it "unlawful, invalid and unenforceable" and their Supreme Court agreed. 

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After initially reopening, the state experienced an uptick in coronavirus cases. However, in late May the numbers started to drop. It isn't exactly clear why, as other states who lifted stay-at-home orders—including Texas, California, and Florida—have experienced spikes in new cases. 

The National Bureau of Economic Research is looking into what's going on. "After some statistical analysis, five academic researchers find 'no evidence' that the sudden lifting of Wisconsin's order 'impacted social distancing, COVID-19 cases, or COVID-19-related mortality' during the 14 days that followed," explains the Wall Street Journal. "Why the null result? It isn't that Wisconsin's initial stay-at-home order was ineffective. The authors say the state's action came 'relatively early during its outbreak cycle' and 'significantly flattened the growth curve.'"

Still, Caution is Needed, Warn Experts

Dr. Ben Weston, director of medical services for the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management, is worried that the drop in numbers might be short-lived. "Please remember that COVID-19 is still in our community and though we are opening back up we need to be more vigilant than ever to make sure we don't take a step backward in this fight," he said, according to Milwaukee Magazine

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett also warned that the number might be decreasing due to a "dramatic drop" in the number of people being tested for COVID-19 in the state. 

As for yourself: To get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.

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