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A medical examiner has fought to prepare his county for the virus. Then he knocked.

Paulette Anderson of Hammond, Wis., A member of the St. Croix County Supervisory Board, said tensions over the pandemic response have intensified in the county, particularly in recent months. This week, the council considered an ordinance that would have tightened restrictions on businesses and made masks mandatory in indoor public places. It was rejected by nine votes to 10.

“It really became a divisive factor,” Ms. Anderson said. “I believe in wearing a mask and social distancing. I think you shouldn’t go into a business without a mask. But a lot of people don’t feel that way, and these people don’t want to be told what to do.

As more people in St. Croix County fell ill with the coronavirus this fall, Ms. Schachtner struggled with demands from her staff. The five death investigators now work 12-hour shifts four days a week and spend 36 hours a week on backup. A staff member had to self-quarantine because of a spouse with coronavirus.

Her own candidacy for re-election to the State Senate came in November, but Ms Schachtner did not organize election events or knock on doors, fearing it was not safe practice; his Republican opponent won easily.

Last week, Ms Schachtner sent a note to local funeral homes, some of which were at full capacity, telling them they could use the refrigerated truck for their dead. The number of infections and deaths from viruses in the county was quickly turning gloomy.

“It was like a snowball,” she says. “All of a sudden the reality of what everyone was saying was going to happen was happening. And I feel like it was almost like people were like, ‘I never thought that was going to happen and that it really is. ”

Then the virus reached his own family.

Ms Schachtner’s sister-in-law, about to undergo surgery, underwent a routine coronavirus test which came back positive. In the following weeks, other members of the family followed: a brother-in-law, a sister and a niece, who was an aide in the retirement home where her father, Richard Rivard lived.

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