And all summer long, the coronavirus barely rose above a trickle in St. Croix County. Then came fall.
Now dozens of her neighbors in St. Croix County are contracting the virus each day. The local health department has abandoned efforts to contain the spread with contact tracing, saying it is too busy simply notifying all the people who test positive. The nightmare scenario unfolded not just for the county, but for Ms. Schachtner. In October, her sister-in-law got it — then, in quick succession, her brother-in-law and her sister.
And then, two weeks ago, her father.
‘No End in Sight’
The outbreak in Wisconsin spiraled beyond control weeks ago, with rates of new cases that are consistently among the country’s worst. Tests are often scarce, the governor has begged people to stay home and all but one of Wisconsin’s 72 counties faced “critically high” case activity on Thursday, the state’s highest level of concern.
Week after week, the state shatters records for cases, hospitalizations and deaths, said Dr. Ben Weston, the director of medical services for the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management. Desperate pleas from officials, even as the United States surpassed 250,000 deaths from the virus, do little to stop the spread.
“Wisconsin is in a tough place right now,” Dr. Weston said. “Despite much talk, we are not turning the corner, nor are we flattening the curve. In fact, our curve is steepening with no end in sight.”
Ms. Schachtner, whose family has lived, farmed, camped and hunted in St. Croix County for generations, has seen public health from more than one angle. She was a longtime emergency medical technician, a job that sent her out on an ambulance and racing urgently into people’s most difficult moments. When she began as a death investigator in 2003, she was struck by parallels in the work.