Last week, Public Health Madison & Dane County released Forward Dane, a phased reopening plan for Dane County during the COVID-19 pandemic. The entire plan rests on active monitoring on a series of nine data-based metrics, which are displayed in a table with green, yellow, red indicators of progress.

Some of these metrics include:

  • Percent Positive Tests: Below a threshold of 5% for positive tests as a percent of total tests averaged across most recent 14 day period.
  • Tests Conducted: Testing supplies and staff facilitate adequate testing for disease control and surveillance with goal of over 800 tests per day in most recent 14 day period.
  • Lab Reporting Timeliness & Contact Tracing: All positive cases can be reported and contacted quickly to facilitate rapid isolation and quarantine for disease control in most recent 14 day period.
  • Community Spread: Proportion of contacted COVID-19 cases who don't know where they could have gotten COVID-19 in most recent 14 day period.

All of our efforts are focused on limiting transmission of this virus and preserving the capacity of our health care system to deal with the most serious cases, and the metrics reflect that. Right now our data metrics indicate a lot of positive green lights with a few cautionary yellows. You can be sure our public health team will continue to monitor these metrics closely for “red light” signs of problems in our community.

As outlined in our Forward Dane plan, Dane County will remain in Phase 1 for a minimum of 14 days, which is one incubation period for COVID-19. If we continue to see progress at meeting our data metrics, Public Health will move us to Phase 2. If criteria are not met, we will stay in Phase 1, reassessing our progress at regular intervals. It’s important that we move slowly, and see what the impacts of reopening are. While no one wants to, we are prepared to reinstate more restrictive orders if we see a resurgence of the disease.

Phase 1 reopening plans include:

  • Reopening all businesses—such as restaurants, gyms, and retail establishments—to 25% capacity with certain public health requirements and physical distancing.
  • Salons, tattoo parlors, and spas can open by appointment only.
  • Indoor gatherings at commercial facilities of 50 people or fewer are allowed, with physical distancing.
  • Indoor gatherings at private residence of 10 people or fewer are allowed, with physical distancing.
  • Outdoor gatherings of 50 or fewer are allowed, with physical distancing.
  • Select businesses and activities with high risk for disease transmission are still closed.
  • Park courts and fields are open, individuals must maintain physical distancing.g

I will be visiting some State Street businesses today to see how they are preparing to open. Some are ready to go and have all the information and materials they need to make a safe transition to 25% open; others are still making modifications to their shops to ensure safe operations. Still others plan to provide drop off-pick up services for a while longer yet. Many restaurants are exploring outdoor seating arrangements to increase their serving capacity, and the city will have more information on that soon.

Public Health has many resources for businesses and workers so they can learn more about safe practices. Our business and enforcement liaisons have put together a toolkit to assist businesses and licensed establishments in a safe re-opening, which include a lot of information about social distancing and hygiene. You can access this material here. And Public Health has a long list of industry-specific guidance and safe practices for restaurants, salons, gyms, entertainment facilities, manufacturers and more, which you can access here.

Questions and concerns can be direct to Public Health Concerns about compliance can be directed to

I hope folks will remember that while the phase we are in has changed, the virus has not: it is still as infectious and dangerous as it has always been. I encourage everyone to continue to work hard to reduce the spread of disease: wash hands often, continue to practice physical distancing, and wear cloth face coverings. Please also remember if you are a person at higher risk for severe illness, you still want to stay home as much as possible.

Follow @MayorofMadison and @PublicHealthMDC for more information on how our city is responding to COVID19.

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Mayor's Office and a link back to the original post.