"Safer-at-Home" Extension Q & A

On April 16th, Governor Evers issued an extension of his "Safer-at-Home" order, to be in effect until 8:00AM on May 26th. The new order includes some slight modifications to the old order; these changes will begin on April 24th (the day the current order was scheduled to expire).

While you can read my statement on his decision in a joint press release with my colleagues here, I want to use this update to address some of the questions that I have been asked since this order was issued. 

The main question that I have been receiving is "does Governor Evers have the authority to do that?" It's a great question and the answer is: well, it's complicated. 

Many people have cited the express statutory limit that says a public health emergency is in effect for 60 days, unless it is extended by the Legislature. That is true, however, chapter 252 of Wisconsin Statutes separately gives the Department of Health Services authority when it comes to communicable diseases.

Specifically, Wis. Stat. 252 (3) gives DHS authority to close schools and forbid public gatherings in schools, churches, and other places to control outbreaks and epidemics. Likewise, in Wis. Stat 252 (6) DHS can also "authorize and implement all emergency measures necessary to control communicable diseases".  

Essentially, Governor Evers is working through DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm and chapter 252 to extend the "Safer-at-Home" order. 

The other question that I have been receiving frequently is "can the Legislature do anything to change this"? 

Again, the answer is not straightforward. Because legal experts disagree about whether the statutes governing public health emergencies and DHS's authority are contingent upon each other, it makes the answer less clear. What I can assure you is that my colleagues and I are having conversations about our options moving forward.  

We are collecting input from our constituents regarding the situation and evaluating the best course of action. To those of you who have reached out already: thank you! My staff and I are working to respond to those who have called or emailed. If you haven't contacted me but want to share your comments, please feel free to email or call me! My contact information is listed at the bottom of this email. 

I know these are unusual times and that many people are suffering from job loss, income loss, loss of a loved one, are combating illness, struggling with mental health and endless other challenges. I want to thank you all for your perseverance and strength during this difficult time; my hope is that we will soon figure out a way forward that protects people's lives and livelihoods. 



On Thursday, the federal government issued new guidance on how we will reopen the country. There are several key points to their approach: 

  • Reopening will likely look different in different parts of the country: Montana's next steps will look different than New York's
  • Each state's government will decide how the state reopens, and regions are encouraged to work together on a reopening strategy
  • Reopening will happen in phases, meaning that we won't simply reopen all schools, bars, sporting events, etc. at the same time
  • Each phase of reopening should be followed by a period of evaluation to ensure cases don't surge again
  • Even when reopening begins, individuals should practice social distancing and good hygiene 

For more information on their guidelines, please click here

COVID 19 Data

As I shared in my last e-update, there are numerous sources for data on the COVID-19 pandemic. Marathon County has added information specific to our county on their website. Additionally, here are the sources I shared earlier: 

The Wisconsin Hospital Association, in collaboration with the Department of Health Services, is providing data. Their dashboard includes information about the number of cases, fatalities, hospitalizations, availability of critical supplies, and more. Click here to view the dashboard. 

In addition, John Hopkins University tracks worldwide COVID-19 data. The information includes cases by country, fatalities, number of active cases and number of recovered individuals. View the John Hopkins data here. For United States specific information, view their recently launched U.S. data page here.