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Coronavirus
Rock County matches COVID-19 daily record, Janesville pace quickens

Monday marked a tie for the largest daily increase in confirmed coronavirus cases in Rock County with 41 new cases reported, matching the high from May 21.

This comes on the heels of new data showing cases of coronavirus are increasing quicker in Janesville than in Beloit and the rest of Rock County.

Of the tests reported Monday, 31% were positive, the second-highest positive rate in a day, trailing only 33% on April 24, according to data from the Rock County Public Health Department.

There are 250 active, confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Rock County. That’s up 48 from Thursday, according to health department data.

There have been 940 confirmed cases of the virus in Rock County since the first case was reported in the county March 19. Twenty-four people have died.

Four people are hospitalized with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, across the county’s four hospitals, according to the data.

Weekly data reported by municipality shows Janesville saw a week-to-week increase of 46 cases since June 29, more than double the weekly increase of 19 seen in Beloit.

All other Rock County communities are counted together and saw a weekly increase of 14 cases, according to the data.

Beloit still holds a lion’s share of the county’s cases with 503 total, but daily increases in Beloit have largely plateaued since the beginning of June.

Cases in Janesville have been trending upward in recent weeks.

Daily increases of cases based on when the individual was tested in Janesville from June 22 to July 5 range from one to 12 with an average of 5.33 per day in that time frame. No data was recorded for July 4.

In Beloit, daily increases in the same time frame range between one and seven with an average of 3.9 per day. No data was reported for July 4 or 5.

Kelsey Cordova, spokeswoman for the health department, acknowledged the health department has identified the municipal trends and case increases and are discussing possible reasons for them internally.

Cordova was unable to answer further questions from The Gazette by press time.

Statewide, cases in individuals ages 20 to 29 have made up a growing share of the state’s confirmed coronavirus cases at 24% of total cases, according to a Monday news release from the state Department of Health Services.

A news release last week from Rock County confirmed the county is seeing an uptick in cases in younger individuals.

Individuals between the ages of 25 and 34 make up 17% of the county’s confirmed cases, tied for the highest with people ages 45 to 54.

Increases in cases among young people coincides with data showing there have been no new deaths statewide from COVID-19 since July 3.

Young, healthy people are considered to be less at risk of serious illness because of the virus than older people or people with underlying health conditions.

It is not impossible, however, for a young person to become seriously ill from the virus.

Statewide, 3% of hospitalizations have been individuals between ages 20 and 29. There have been eight people in their 20s who have died from the virus.

John Raymond, president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin, said in a news release young people are more likely to be socially active, gather in bars, attend parties and work as front-line essential workers; all of which lend to a higher probability of picking up the virus.


No_meter
Doctor: Go to a hospital if you suspect heat stroke

The current heat wave could combine with the coronavirus to kill people in southern Wisconsin, but not in the way you might think.

Dr. Jay MacNeal of Mercyhealth said people suffering heatstroke might decide to stay home because they fear catching the virus at the hospital, and they could die when they might have been saved.

It’s already happened here more than once with people experiencing chest pains, MacNeal said. People frightened of hospitals because of the chance of catching the virus didn’t go to the ER, and they died.

People with life-threatening conditions should come to the ER for treatment, and that includes heatstroke, MacNeal stressed.

High temperatures in Janesville have exceeded 86 degrees since June 27. They hit 91 on Sunday, and hotter days are ahead.

The AccuWeather forecast service predicted a high of 95 for Wednesday and not much better the rest of the week.

Mercyhealth reports an increase in heat-related illness, with symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness and headaches since June 27 in all its Rock County facilities.

SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital-Janesville has seen at least two heat-related cases since June 27. The hospital might have seen more cases that haven’t yet found their way into the hospital data, a spokeswoman said.

Heat exhaustion symptoms mentioned above, along with nausea and heavy sweating, could lead to more serious and potentially lethal heat stroke.

Heatstroke symptoms include a high temperature and even loss of consciousness.

“You’re at the point where your body no longer is able to compensate for the heat load,” MacNeal said.

“If you stop sweating, you’re super in trouble,” said Capt. John McManus of the Janesville Fire Department.

But MacNeal said it’s hard to tell when sweating stops because a shirt might be soaked with previous sweat or with water a person has poured on herself.

A key symptom is mental confusion, so if a person is not acting normally, get him to the ER right away, MacNeal said.

The elderly and those taking blood-pressure medications are particularly susceptible, MacNeal said.

The doctor recommends people confine outdoor activities to early morning or evening when temperatures are lower.

But even then, with current conditions, “You probably need to be drinking more than you think you do,” MacNeal said.

MacNeal has worked in disaster relief after hurricanes, when lack of electric power meant no air conditioning. Workers were told to monitor their urine. Dark urine is a sign of dehydration.

MacNeal said the fact that Janesville city parks water fountains remain dry because of COVID-19 concerns “adds to the complexity of this.”

Children generally can deal with the heat better than older people, but children might not communicate well and need to be encouraged to drink frequently in this heat, MacNeal said.

MacNeal recommends a buddy system when a member of the household is working in the yard.

“Have somebody keep an eye on you,” MacNeal said. “Encourage each other to remain hydrated.”

As for the chance of catching the coronavirus, MacNeal said all the hospitals in this area take precautions far beyond what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend.

“You’re probably safer in the hospital than going to a lot of places you’re going to go to,” he said. “We don’t want people sitting at home, worrying about corona and dying of heatstroke.”


Crime
top story
UPDATE: Man ordered to life in prison for wife’s murder; motive remains a mystery

ELKHORN

Some who loved Rochelle “Shelley” Scott said they struggled to find the right words to share with a judge at the sentencing of her husband, the man who killed her in their town of Delavan home in early 2019.

They said they miss the nurse, aunt, friend and mother who was selfless, patient, hard-working and beautiful.

But contributing to their immeasurable grief is the lack of answers as to why Robert J. Scott stabbed his wife more than 20 times.

“There (are) questions here that only the defendant knows the answer to and that we’ll very likely never know,” District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld said in court Monday. “He’s going to leave questions out there that will haunt family members forever.”

Throughout the court proceedings, Scott has chosen to not disclose details of what happened at their home at 4003 S. Channel Drive. The killing was less than three weeks after his wife filed for divorce, but that is the only substantial clue for a motive.

Scott’s lawyer, Steven Harvey, said they would not contest the state Department of Corrections or Wiedenfeld’s recommendation that Scott never be allowed to leave prison on extended supervision.

Judge Phillip Koss said sentencing hearings can sometimes take a long time. But without an argument to do otherwise, the judge ordered Scott to live the rest of his life in prison.

Scott, 58, pleaded guilty in December to first-degree intentional homicide for the Jan. 6, 2019 stabbing of his 58-year-old wife.

Monday’s hearing was only to decide how much of his mandatory lifetime sentence would be in prison—which had to be at least 20 years—as opposed to living in the community on supervision.

After the murder, he called his sister and then 911, when he was quoted as saying, “I just murdered my wife,” “I stabbed her” and “She’s dead,” according to the criminal complaint.

While a lot is unknown, Wiedenfeld said Rochelle Scott was in bed, and a white noise machine was still running when authorities executed a search warrant—all suggesting she was asleep before the murder.

When Koss gave him a chance to address the court, Scott declined.

When it was time for Harvey to argue on behalf of his client, he said that according to “express instructions from Mr. Scott,” they were not going to object to the life-in-prison recommendation.

“We have nothing to offer as a defense presentation for sentencing purposes,” Harvey said as he read from a sheet of paper. “I am restricted from offering you my own impressions or comments for sentencing in my role as defense counsel.”

Harvey said his client has “a lot of objections” to the state Department of Corrections presentence investigation but “is not going to describe them at this time,” even though Monday’s hearing was the only time he would be allowed to offer any corrections.

Questions about Scott’s competency to proceed with court matters were raised throughout the year that led up to his guilty plea. Ultimately, Koss ruled Scott was competent, relying on testimony from experts and psychological evaluations.

Rochelle Scott’s murder was one of three in Walworth County within seven months all tied to domestic violence. All three were within 5 miles of one

another. Monday’s hearing came one week after the Elkhorn City Council reversed itself and gave the green light for New Beginnings APFV to bring the county its only domestic violence shelter.

That only came after the group sued the council, which originally voted down the project, and a judge made them reconsider the proposal.

Rochelle Scott’s niece said she’s struggling to forgive Scott, which has tested her Christian faith.

Another speaker said she is a friend of Shelley but called her a “sister at heart and my best friend.”

She said she wakes every day to a picture Shelley gave her, and she snuggles every night with a blanket “that she gave me at the last Christmas that we will ever spend together.”

“I will never understand why you hurt the one person who wanted to help you out,” she said to Scott.

Rochelle Scott’s daughter, Kelley Klute, said her mom inspired her to go to nursing school. But her mom will never see her graduation from there.

Koss made a point to ask Klute how many siblings she had (two others, Jill and Jimmy), the order of their ages and if there were any grandchildren (there’s one, who is 4).

Scott’s sentencing took place in Walworth County Court with some restrictions because of COVID-19, a time when Koss said a nurse such as Rochelle Scott has been needed.

Those who entered the courthouse were subject to a health screening and temperature check, and court officials tried to ensure physical distancing although nearly 30 people showed up in the courtroom.

Wiedenfeld said the family and other supporters have been patient throughout the long court process, which went a little longer because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Everyone wore masks, as well, including Scott.

Absent answers about a motive or what exactly happened, Wiedenfeld said a family member asked him if Koss could make Scott lift his mask and face them when the judge ordered the sentence and “actually face the consequences head on for what he did.”

The prosecutor acknowledged that it might not be possible given the health policies in place, however.

Scott did not lift his mask nor did Koss ask him to.

“We waited this long to confront him,” Wiedenfeld said he was told. “And he’s still going to be hiding behind a mask at the sentencing hearing.”

UPDATE: This story was updated at 4:50 p.m. Monday with more details from the hearing.


Obituaries and death notices for July 7, 2020

Lee Auter

Richard Floyd Carroll

Judith Dietsch

Matt Ellis

Annie Lee Evans

Robert Gosda

Shirley G. Haase

Ricky A. Humphrey

Joseph R. Jedlicka

Gordon L. Jorgensen

Michele M. Lindemann

John McDougal

William Miller

Gerald L. Newcomb

Betty J. Shepherd

Doretta “Sis” Stewart

Louise M. Teeter

Julie M. Walmer

Fannie Bell Webb