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Mock assistance center helps Oneida Co. prepare for mass casualty eventSubmitted: 05/09/2019
Story By Ben Meyer

Mock assistance center helps Oneida Co. prepare for mass casualty event
RHINELANDER - Two years ago, a shooter killed 58 people and injured hundreds more at a country music festival in Las Vegas.

On Thursday, a simulation in Rhinelander used the aftermath of that event, in part, as a model for responding to a crisis.

"The point is is that, we will be ready as a region, together, for this," said Oneida Co. Health Dept. Assistant Director Marta McMillion, who helped organize the event.

The health department set up a mock family assistance center at Grace Foursquare Church. It was designed for workers to practice connecting victims of fire, natural disaster, or emergency to the resources they need.


"This plan that we have is actually not one that we have ever actually exercised to this capacity or this scale before. The point of the exercise is to kind of stress it and figure out what we do well [and] what we maybe need to improve," McMillion said.

More than 60 people were involved in the event, including emergency workers and actors playing victims.

They practiced setting up and using rooms for first aid, mental health, and family reunification.

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THREE LAKES - While schools across the state are closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty and staff at the Three Lakes School District work hard to keep the student-body well-fed.

"We feed kids here," said Food Service Director Tina Halverson. "That's what I've done for 20 years. Now we're just doing it a little differently."

Staff deliver breakfasts and lunches to students around the district by bus.

"We have runners, we have packers, we have assemblers, we have extra helpers," said Halverson. "We have it down to a really good system right now."


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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for coronavirus.

Johnson's office said that he was tested after showing mild symptoms.

Johnson is self-isolating at his London home, and he is still continuing to lead Great Britain's fight against coronavirus.

Earlier this week Britain's Prince Charles announced that he had tested positive for coronavirus.

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RHINELANDER - A local grocery chain is now getting some help to sanitize its carts and baskets. 

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RHINELANDER - With flights well below capacity during the coronavirus outbreak, the waiting area at the Rhinelander-Oneida County airport is empty, at a time when airport director Matthew Leitner says twice-daily flights from Rhinelander to Minneapolis are usually pretty full.

"This time of year, we're usually seeing about 60 percent [full]" Leitner said. "Of course, we're pretty far below that now."

According to Leitner, Rhinelander's airport is far from alone.

"Whether it's Chicago or Boston or Las Vegas or Salt Lake City, everyone's down 75 to 90 percent and I don't think we're an exception," Leitner said.

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RHINELANDER - The owner of a Rhinelander t-shirt shop is reminding people to support local businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

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NORTHWOODS -
Blood centers across the country saw thousands of cancelled blood drives and donations due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Community Blood Center of Wisconsin initially lost more than 700 units of blood the last two weeks but donations are now on the rise. 

"There's always going to be a need for blood whether we are in a pandemic or not," said Community Blood Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Todd Straus.

Blood donations immediately halted with the rise of Coronavirus cases. Turns out, donating is one of the best ways to help out.

"We were looking at a really big shortage. In response we had to put out a big plea to our donors in the community to try and get in blood donors and I am pleased to say the community response has been wonderful," Straus said.

The local Community Blood Center donation surge was so large the blood centers started scheduling blood donation appointments two weeks out so supply stays stable.

"People are good-hearted individuals, especially in our state. Everyone wants to help out. It's just usually we don't think about it at the time but once we put out the message everyone responded greatly," Straus said.

With the high number of donors during the COVID-19 Pandemic, safety standards rose too.

"We've spaced out our appointment slots, making sure we don't have groups of people at the front door," Straus said.

"Everyone is spaced out from a time standpoint and we've also spaced people out physically in our donor centers so we can make sure the six-feet rules are in place," Straus said.

What's also important right now is that donors who have scheduled an appointment, to keep it.

"We know the need is there but it's not just going to be there today. It's going to be there in two weeks as well," Straus said.

The CBC hopes people remember that need for blood is year-round and there is no alternative way of getting this life-saving treatment. 

"I think people are looking for something to do to help. It's really hard to figure out what you can do to help when you have to stay in your home and this is something we are allowed to do. We are an essential community resource that we need to have. Blood donors have to come out and donate blood, we have no substitute for blood donors," Straus said.

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ONEIDA CO. - Friday, Gov. Tony Evers called on the State Legislature to send an absentee ballot to every Wisconsin voter ahead of the April 7 Presidential Primary. However, Republican state leaders say the plan is simply not feasible.

About 1,400 absentee ballots were requested in Oneida County during the 2016 presidential primary. This year, that number has jumped to 4,000, as more people are looking to avoid voting in person.

Next Thursday, April 2, is the last day to request an absentee ballot from your municipal clerk. Oneida County Clerk Tracy Hartman encourages people to request it earlier than that. Under current laws, the ballot must return to the polling location by election day, on April 7.

"If you wait till April 2nd to request it," said Oneida County Clerk Tracy Hartman. "And if something happens with the mail and its delayed a day, your ballot may not get there. So we're encouraging everybody to get their requests in as quick as possible."

You can request an absentee ballot by going to MyVote.wi.gov. For now, there will still be in-person voting, despite the Safer at Home order.


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