Wisconsin Coronavirus: 3/24 update with Wisconsin governor, DHS


FILE – In this Feb. 23, 2019 file photo, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers speaks during an interview during the National Governors Association 2019 winter meeting in Washington. Evers said Thursday, March 14, that the state budget he proposed is “pretty close” to not raising taxes, even though it would increase them by $1.3 billion over two years. Evers, in an interview on WTMJ radio, said that there “may be some small tax increases.” The comments drew an incredulous reaction from Republican legislative leaders.(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

TUESDAY 3/24/2020 1:30 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) – During Tuesday’s media briefing, Governor Tony Evers says he decided to enact the ‘Safer At Home’ order despite saying last week that he believed an order like it was not needed because of the fluidity of the coronavirus situation in Wisconsin.

“At the end of the day folks, we are all in this together,” Gov. Evers said during the briefing. He went on to say that Wisconsinites need to take the ‘Safer At Home’ order seriously to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Gov. Evers went on to say officials are working to ensure healthcare employees have access to childcare during this time. The governor also thanked the Wisconsin Dental Association for contributing medical supplies, including masks, to medical professionals using them for the battle against coronavirus.

Secretary-designee Andrea Palm of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services says the ‘Safer At Home’ order is intended to keep Wisconsin’s positive coronavirus case total from rising as high as those in Wuhan, China, and Italy. Palm says reducing interactions and remaining at home can slow the spread of coronavirus.

Related: Coronavirus in Wisconsin: Local businesses hiring during the outbreak

There are currently teams working to prepare for surges of cases at hospitals, supply needs, childcare for healthcare officials, and other aspects of the state’s approach at slowing the spread of the virus, according to Palm.

“We will get through this, it will take time,” says Palm.

Chief Medical Officer of the Bureau of Communicable Diseases Dr. Ryan Westergaard says that 20 percent of those tested for coronavirus will return as positive, correcting an error in saying it was at about 10 percent in Monday’s briefing.

Dr. Westergaard went on to say that for every individual tested positive for coronavirus, there could be 10 people who have the virus but are not showing symptoms. He says that this is due to the state’s testing requirements – those with symptoms are being tested while those with little to no symptoms are frequently self-quarantining. Despite this, Dr. Westergaard says remaining at home is crucial because coronavirus is highly transmissible.

Related: Wisconsin health experts on coronavirus: Slowing the spread, staying healthy, more

He adds that social distancing and isolation can be difficult for our mental health. Those who may be struggling with the lack of social interaction are encouraged to visit the Department of Health’s website for resources.

Gov. Evers says state officials are looking at relaxing certain regulations for medical professions that would allow more resources to be available to combat the coronavirus.

When asked about the lengthy list of essential businesses outlined in Gov. Evers’ ‘Safe At Home’ order, he explained that there are, for example, many businesses needed for supplying food to the grocery stores – from the farmer on the field to the transportation system to the grocer.

Related: Fond du Lac officials asking residents to stop calling dispatch with ‘Safer At Home’ questions

Gov. Evers says that state officials continue to work on the specifics of the upcoming April 7 election, but again asked Wisconsinites to vote via absentee ballots. Gov. Evers’ Chief Legal Counsel Ryan Nilsestuen echoed Gov. Evers’ statement, adding that Wisconsin is seeing a record number of absentee ballots being requested in the state.

Moving forward, Gov. Evers says state officials will continue to work with local municipalities ahead of the election.

According to Gov. Evers, employees working at an essential business who does not feel comfortable going to work during the pandemic should speak with their employers directly to make accommodations.

Dr. Westergaard says the number of positive cases of coronavirus will likely rise over the next few weeks but, if Wisconsinites following the ‘Safer At Home’ order, the chances of the number of positive cases decreasing should be higher.

Gov. Evers and Sec. Palm both explained that Wisconsin does not have enough medical supplies to continue fighting coronavirus, but they are hoping the federal government will be able to distribute supplies to better prepared.

Gov. Evers says officials are working to assist those who may be unable to afford rent or mortgage payments. Nilsestuen says that in terms of evictions, state officials are looking into what steps can be taken to keep those people safe during the public health emergency.

Businesses who believe they are essential but fall into the nonessential category can appeal to remain open. To do this, Nilsestuen says businesses can fill out a form on the WEDC website.

According to Nilsestuen, the enforcement of the ‘Safer At Home’ order will be done by local law enforcement, but Wisconsinites are not required to have any certification while out traveling as this order is reliant on voluntary participation.

When someone tests positive for coronavirus, the healthcare provider and the local health department speaks with the patient to determine who they may have interacted with. Once that information is collected, those who may have interacted with the positive patient, the health department will notify those potentially affected individuals.

Another media briefing with Wisconsin officials is scheduled for Friday.

Original Story: Wisconsin governor, DHS to give update on coronavirus status

TUESDAY 3/24/2020 11:19 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) – Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers is scheduled to participate in a media briefing Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. to give more information about Wisconsin’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, the ‘Safer At Home’ order, and additional steps people can take to avoid illness.

Gov. Evers will be joined by Wisconsin’s Adjutant General Paul Knapp, Secretary-designee Andrea Palm of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Chief Medical Officer of the Bureau of Communicable Diseases Dr. Ryan Westergaard, and Gov. Evers’ Chief Legal Counsel Ryan Nilsestuen.

Details of the order were released Tuesday morning and include the order of nonessential businesses to cease operations to some extent, limits on travel, and the closures of certain parks and entertainment facilities.

On Monday, Gov. Evers stated he didn’t want to make the decision to impose the ‘Safer At Home,’ but believes it is necessary to “flatten the curve” in the state.

During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Evers directed Sec. Palm to issue updates to the previous order prohibiting mass gatherings of 10 or more people. This resulted in the closure of hair salons, day spas, nail salons, barbershops, tattoo parlors, body art establishments, and tanning facilities.

In the same briefing, Gov. Evers stated that he didn’t believe a statewide shelter in place order was necessary, citing that he trusted Wisconsinsites to heed his previous orders to slow the spread of the virus.

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