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The Supreme Court Killed State Safeguards. Find Out if You Still Have Local Rules.

Written by LOPPW | 05/15/2020

Wisconsin is left with a patchwork of standards throughout all 72 counties.

Less than a day after the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the statewide stay-home order in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic while allowing no grace period for a replacement, cities and counties around the state are issuing their own orders to keep residents safe.

These local governments have kept the shutdown going:

Brown County: Public Health Officer Anna Destree extended the state order as written until May 20, but increased the maximum fine for violating the order from $250 to $500. She lamented that “state officials and the Legislature cannot work together to develop a statewide approach to suppress COVID-19.”

Brown County has the most highly concentrated outbreak in the state, with 762.9 cases per 100,000 residents as of Wednesday, compared to 441.7 cases per 100,000 residents in Milwaukee County.

Massive, rapidly moving outbreaks in food processing plants throughout the county have driven a meteoric rise in cases to about 2,000.

City of Racine: The city’s Health Department, which also covers the two small suburban villages of Elmwood Park and Wind Point, extended the state’s order through May 26, the original end date. The only change is that religious institutions will be allowed to operate under the essential business guidelines put forth in the governor’s original order.

Racine has one of the fastest-growing outbreaks in the country, and cases within the city’s jurisdiction surpassed 500 on Wednesday. Mayor Cory Mason sharply rebuked the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“This reckless decision will almost certainly mean that the pandemic lasts longer and the health consequences will be even more severe, particularly in places like Racine which is seeing a spike in cases and savage disparities among communities of color,” Mason said in a statement.

The Central Racine County Health Department, which has jurisdiction over all 14 of the county’s other municipalities, which have a cumulative population of about 120,000, is not issuing its own order. The sheriff previously said he would no longer enforce the statewide order.

The department only offered an extensive list of recommendations Thursday afternoon, such as asking businesses that open limit themselves to 50 percent capacity., but there are no requirements.

The county had 785 total cases and 17 deaths as of Wednesday, according to DHS data.

Kenosha County: Dr. Jen Freiheit, Kenosha County’s public health officer, extended the order without modifications late Wednesday. It will last through 8 a.m. on May 26.

“We must stay the course and remain calm until Kenosha County is safe to open for all residents,” Freiheit said in a statement. “The consequences of relaxing Safer-At-Home before the data and science suggests would be devastating to our community.”

Like Racine County, Kenosha County’s outbreak is quickly growing. It had 736 cases and 17 deaths as of Wednesday, according to DHS data.

Milwaukee, city and county: Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s administration issued a citywide stay-home order in March, the day before Gov. Tony Evers enacted the statewide safeguards. That order had no end date, so it remains in effect.

The city’s restrictions were essentially identical to the state’s order.

The county’s 10 suburban health departments jointly issued a new order that lasts until 11:59 p.m. on May 21.

Hair salons, spas, and tattoo parlors are allowed to operate if they adhere to social distancing guidelines. Outdoor playgrounds, driving ranges, and beaches can also reopen.

In a joint statement, the suburban municipalities said the modified order will “protect the lives and livelihoods of our communities.”

The affected municipalities are: Cudahy, Franklin, Greendale, Greenfield, Hales Corners, Oak Creek, Bayside, Brown Deer, Fox Point, Glendale, River Hills, Shorewood, Whitefish Bay, South Milwaukee, St. Francis, Wauwatosa, West Allis, and West Milwaukee.

Milwaukee County had 4,395 confirmed cases and 229 deaths as of Thursday, according to county data. Five suburbs — Franklin, Oak Creek, West Allis, Wauwatosa, and Greenfield — have over 100 cases, and the city itself has over 3,300.

Dane County: The joint Madison-Dane County Health Department extended the stay-home order through 8 a.m. on May 26 almost immediately after the Supreme Court killed the statewide order. Like the City of Racine’s extension, the only change is that religious entities are allowed to operate under essential business guidelines.

“It is critical to continue following Safer at Home right now to keep Dane County residents healthy and keep our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed,” the Health Department said in a statement.

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Rock County: Marie Noel-Sandoval, Rock County’s public health officer, issued an extension of the statewide order Wednesday night.

“The most effective way to prevent, control, and suppress COVID-19 is for state officials and the state legislature to work together and … that has not occurred,” the order reads.

Rock County, home to Janesville and Beloit, had 380 cases and 13 deaths as of Wednesday, according to DHS data.

Appleton: The city issued its own order late Wednesday night, adopting all provisions of the state’s order. It will expire at 8 a.m. on May 20.
The city had 57 confirmed cases and one death as of Wednesday, according to the Health Department.

Eau Claire County: Residents will be under a heavily relaxed version of Evers’ order through midnight on May 28, the county Health Department announced Thursday.

Businesses will be allowed to open as long as they can operate while abiding by social distancing guidelines — so businesses like salons, tattoo parlors, and spas must remain closed. Large gatherings are still prohibited.

The county currently has 63 confirmed cases and no deaths.