For a group of 22 friends, an Egyptian river cruise may have sounded like a wonderful tour.

   But when they returned, including nine to Fond du Lac County, they brought back with them a terrible souvenir: COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus.

   And in doing so, the tour group inadvertently made this rural Wisconsin county the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wisconsin.

   Despite having far fewer residents and travelers here than a more populated region such as Milwaukee, Fond du Lac County outpaced every other county in the state for confirmed cases through Sunday. By Monday, Milwaukee County had moved ahead.

   As of press time, 11 of the 72 confirmed cases in Wisconsin were in Fond du Lac County, nine of which were travelers on the Egyptian river cruise. Two others were visitors from Maryland.

   It’s not clear if any of those cases are from Ripon.

   “The biggest reason is [we’re not identifying hometowns is] because that’s not the main concern,” said Kim Mueller, public health officer for Fond du Lac County. “They’re being isolated at home ... Regardless of where they’re living it’s not important to the public ...

   “What’s important is that we work through [contact tracing on] each of those positive cases.”

Read the full story in the March 19, 2020 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.