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protective measures, such as employee ….

protective measures, such as employee testing and staggered shifts, at businesses with multiple cases and limit gatherings and mandate face masks in municipalities after documentation of a substantial increase in cases. The health department could limit gatherings and mandate face masks in public county-wide should cases rise to the point where local hospitals might be overwhelmed.

The ordinance says the county will seek voluntary compliance with county COVID-19 orders and generally not seek enforcement actions against citizens or businesses.

“There is no reason to issue a mandatory order when people, businesses, organizations and localities are implementing recommendations voluntarily,” the ordinance reads.

County health officer Joan Theurer said the county has pretty much taken a voluntary approach to health orders in the past.

She noted that in her memory her department only once has had to go to court to enforce a tuberculosis quarantine order.

Corbett said the proposed ordinance responds to the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s position that the state’s Safer at Home order was too broad because it, in effect, quarantined everyone in the state, not just people who have contracted COVID-19. “We aren’t going to tell everybody they have to stay in their homes or they can’t go to work,” he said.

Corbett said an ordinance drafting committee considered writing an ordinance that would strengthen the health department’s ability to fight all kinds of diseases, but, in the end, settled on one that was limited to COVID-19.

With the committee action, the ordinance will now go to the county’s Executive Committee and, in turn, the full county board. The county’s Board of Health will be able to review the ordinance.

Health and Human Services Committee chairman Tim Buttke said the county needed to address the health department’s powers in light of the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision.

“Time is of the essence,” he said. “I do think we need to have something in place.”

County administrator Lance Leonhard told committee members the plan was shared with Dave Eckman, Wausau Chamber of Commerce, for his perspective and comments.