Badger Bounce Back criteria still a resource for reopening businesses, Lt. Governor Barnes says

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes
Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes

Last updated on May 27th, 2020 at 05:47 pm

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said the Badger Bounce Back dashboard remains a resource for businesses navigating the “confusion” following the state Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Gov. Tony Evers’ “Safer at Home” order. 

“We hope that that can still serve as a sort of parameter for (businesses and local municipalities) to work with so they won’t be left in the dark trying to figure it all out,” Barnes said in an interview with BizTimes Milwaukee. 

The state Department of Health Services has been reporting since late April the state’s progress on several gating criteria related to the spread of COVID-19, including the state’s hospital capacity and trajectory of COVID-19 cases. 

As of May 12, the day before the court ruling, five of the six criteria were given the “green light” on the dashboard. Meeting all six would have allowed the state to move into phase one of Gov. Tony Evers’ Badger Bounce Back reopening plan. 

In the days since “Safer at Home” was overturned, a patchwork of local public health orders have been issued, with many municipalities lifting restrictions on businesses. 

“The decision created a whole lot of confusion … with local governments, cities, counties, villages, tribal governments,” Barnes said. “With them having to sort of figure it out on their own in some sort of patchwork way, that confusion has led a lot of folks to just go ahead and reopen. And I personally feel that the reopening may be a bit premature, just given the fact that cases are still on the rise. We’re not in any better place this week than we were last weekend in terms of the Badger Bounce Back plan.” 

As of Friday, the state met only two of the six Badger Bounce Back gating criteria.

“That just shows us that there should have been a lot more caution, and that caution ultimately should have been exercised by the Supreme Court,” Barnes said.

DHS has said it will continue updating the gating criteria for use in local decision-making for reopening.

“It’s there to help people,” Barnes said of the Badger Bounce Back dashboard. “It’s also there as a tool to help people understand what is truly going on, especially as the lights go from red to green and, unfortunately, from green to red in some instances.”

The city of Milwaukee continues to enforce its own stay-at-home order, which is patterned after the Badger Bounce Back plan and has no expiration date. The city over the past week has allowed some additional businesses to reopen, with restrictions, such as salons and gyms – which is considered “phase two” of the city’s reopening plan. 

“We will reevaluate on May 28 and, hopefully – and I say that with a lot of sincerity  hopefully we’ll be able to move to phase three by then, but we’re following the science very closely,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said on a call with reporters Friday. “The testing is part of this, the tracing is part of this, the hospital capacity, the hospital usage.”

Barrett noted that the city has seen an increase in hospital utilization in recent days but a decrease in deaths, all of which factors into the pace of the city’s reopening. 

On Friday, Milwaukee County’s suburban municipalities moved to the next phase of reopening Friday, allowing all remaining businesses to open.

Get more news and insight in the April 27 issue of BizTimes Milwaukee. Subscribe to get updates in your inbox here.

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Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits, education and insurance for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, history and African studies. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends and seeing live music wherever she can.