Wisconsin to stay Safer at Home through May
Those hoping self isolating would come to an end along with April, will have to push their hopes back at least a month, as Gov. Tony Evers extended the Safer at Home order April 16.
The order was extended from April 24 to May 26, or until a superseding order is issued. The order implements some new measures to ensure safety and support the progress made in containing COVID-19, but also allows certain activities to start up again.
“A few weeks ago, we had a pretty grim outlook for what COVID-19 could mean for our state, but because of the efforts of all of you, Safer at Home is working,” said Evers. “That said, we aren’t out of the woods just yet.”
With the extension, Evers mandated that all public and private K-12 schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.
Most parks remain open, however, local health officials may close public parks and open spaces if it becomes too difficult to ensure social distancing, or if the areas are mistreated.
People are strongly encouraged to stay close to home, not travel to second homes or cabins, and not to travel out-ofstate if it is not necessary.
“As I’ve said all along, we are going to rely on the science and public health experts to guide us through this challenge,” said Evers. “So, as we extend Safer at Home, I need all of you to continue doing the good work you’ve been doing, so we can keep our families, our neighbors and our communities safe, and get through this storm together.”
Changes to the order also state that public libraries may now provide curb-side pick-up of books and other library materials, while golf courses may open again, with restrictions including scheduling, and paying for tee times online or by phone only. Clubhouses and pro shops must remain closed.
Non-essential businesses will now be able to do more things as minimum basic operations, including deliveries, mailings and curb-side pick-up. Non-essential businesses must notify workers of whether they are necessary for the operations.
Arts and craft stores may offer expanded curb-side pickup of materials necessary to make face masks or other personal protective equipment (PPE). Aesthetic or optional exterior lawn care, or construction, is now allowed under the extended order, so long as it can be done by one person.
Essential businesses and operations must increase cleaning and disinfection practices, ensure that only necessary workers are present, and adopt policies to prevent workers exposed to COVID-19 or symptomatic workers, from coming to work.
Retail stores that remain open to the public as essential, must limit the number of people in the store at one time, must provide proper spacing for people waiting to enter and large stores must offer at least two hours per week of dedicated shopping time for vulnerable populations.
Evers also announced Wisconsin’s “Badger Bounce Back” plan April 20, which outlines important criteria for Wisconsin to be able to reopen its economy in phases, and includes steps to make sure workers and businesses are prepared to
See SAFER AT HOME THROUGH MAY/ Page 3 reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.
“As we’ve learned over the past month, in the most diffi cult of circumstances, Wisconsinites will rise to the occasion… that’s what the Badger Bounce Back is all about: our resilience as a people and as a state.” said Evers. “I am excited and hopeful about this plan. While being safe at home continues to be important, this plan is an all-out attack on the virus, and it begins the process of preparing our businesses and our workforce for the important planning that will result in the safe and logical reopening of our economy.”
The Badger Bounce Back plan is informed, in part, by the President’s Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, that was issued by the White House April 16. Currently, Wisconsin does not meet the criteria the White House established to start reopening the state.
The goal of the Badger Bounce Back plan is to decrease cases and deaths to a low level, and increase capacity in the healthcare system, so the phased reopening of businesses is possible. As part of that plan, the state will work to increase access to more testing and expand lab capacity.
Under the Badger Bounce Back plan, everyone who needs a test, should get a test. Next, the state will expand contact tracing and more aggressively track the spread, with the goal of every Wisconsinite who tests positive, interviewed within 24 hours of receiving their test results and their contacts being interviewed within 48 hours of test results.
Additionally, the state will continue to pursue every avenue to grow Wisconsin’s supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare and public safety entities to conduct COVID-19 testing, patient care and public safety work. Finally, the plan works to bolster healthcare system capacity where patients can be treated without crisis care and there are more robust testing programs in place for atrisk healthcare workers.
The plan will be implemented in three phases.
Phase 1 will include allowing mass gatherings of up to 10 people; restaurants opening with social distancing requirements; removal of certain restrictions including retail restrictions for essential businesses and operations; additional operations for non-essential businesses; K-12 schools to resume in-person operation; and childcare settings resuming full operation.
Phase 2 will include allowing mass gatherings of up to 50 people; restaurants resuming full operation; bars reopening with social distancing requirements; non-essential businesses resuming operations with social distancing requirements; and post-secondary education institutions may resume operation.
Phase 3 will resume all business activity and gatherings, with minimal protective and preventative measures in place for the general public, and more protective measures for vulnerable populations.
The state will look for a downward trajectory of influenza- like illnesses and COVID-19 symptoms reported within a 14-day period, and a downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period. When the state has seen these efforts be successful, Wisconsin can begin to turn the dial, reopen the state, and get businesses and workers back on their feet.
“Before we lift Safer at Home, the steps of testing and more robust public health measures must be in place,” said said Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) secretary- designee Andrea Palm. “These steps will help us reduce the risk of a second wave of the virus. If we open up too soon, we risk overwhelming our hospitals and requiring more drastic physical distancing measures again.”