COVID Dashboard

Working to make Ripon healthier are, from left, Natasha Paris, Tanya Monet-Bakken and Stephanie Prellwitz.

If knowledge is power, Ripon residents are about to become much more powerful thanks to two Ripon High School teachers.

COVID Graph 1

Ripon is seeing an increasing rate in the number of new COVID-19 cases per day. In 2018, Ripon’s population was determined to be 7,810 (per the U.S. Census Bureau).

Ag-science teacher Natasha Paris and science teacher Tanya Monet-Bakken are providing real-time information about how the COVID wave is washing over Ripon. Every day they update a Google spreadsheet with data showing Ripon’s current COVID positivity rate (about 37% as of Monday), its increase in cases (9 on Monday) and its total number of cases (250).

COVID Graph 2

The daily positivity rate (top line) is the % of all coronavirus tests performed that are actually positive each day, or: (daily positive tests)/(total tests) x 100%. The new tests per day (lower jagged line) demonstrate an increase of the daily positivity correlated not to an increase in testing, but to an increase in COVID-19 cases. The dashed line shows a “safe positivity rating” considered to be 5% of the daily positivity rate. Ripon is not close to meeting this safety threshold.

Updated figures are displayed daily on graphs, showing trend lines, on a user-friendly website — www.riponcovid19.org/local-covid-19-cases — created by Paris and Ripon COVID Task Force Co-Chair Stephanie Prellwitz.

This information demonstrates in black and white that the pandemic is not an abstraction, that it is here in our neighborhoods, right now, and infecting more of us.

COVID Graph 3

The increasing rate of Ripon’s COVID-19 cases illustrates the larger point that the state is at a crisis point in the COVID-19 pandemic, with hospital beds in northeastern Wisconsin filling up as cases continue to spiral out of control.

But while the graph lines now are all on the rise, they remind us that we are not powerless. If we know how pervasive the virus is, we can act accordingly: wear masks, social distance, avoid gatherings, decide whether we or our children should participate in trick-or-treating and assume other measures to minimize exposure.

We can listen to the science, prevent illness and death, and be that much closer to restoring social, economic and educational normalcy as we await distribution of a safe vaccine.

Or we can choose to live in ignorance — or worse, denial — and face the consequences.

Luckily, Paris, Monet-Bakken and Prellwitz have given us a tool to make us smarter — and healthier.

— Tim Lyke

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