Evers issues order restricting indoor public gatherings

Gov. Tony Evers
Gov. Tony Evers

Last updated on October 7th, 2020 at 11:57 am

Gov. Tony Evers issued on Tuesday a statewide limit on public gatherings to no more than 25% of a building’s total occupancy, citing the escalation of COVID-19 cases across the state.

The order applies to any publicly accessible gathering area, such as stores, restaurants, ticketed events and other businesses. It is in effect Oct. 8 through Nov. 6.

The restrictions do not apply to outdoor areas, such as park shelters, outdoor dining areas, or playgrounds; and 4K-12 schools and colleges and universities are exempt from the order. A full list of exempted businesses is available here.

“We’re in a crisis right now and need to immediately change our behavior to save lives,” Evers said. “We are continuing to experience a surge in cases and many of our hospitals are overwhelmed, and I believe limiting indoor public gatherings will help slow the spread of this virus.”

According to the state’s Department of Health Services, Wisconsin had the third highest rate of new cases and third highest total number of new cases in the nation during the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3.

DHS today reported an increase of 2,020 confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the 7-day average of new daily cases to 2,346. That’s up from 836 a month ago.

According to a DHS dashboard, as of Sept. 30, 45 counties meet the threshold of a “very high” disease activity level, meaning there are more than 350 cases per 100,000 people in that county. Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee, Walworth, Racine and Kenosha counties have “high” disease activity level, meaning the case rate is higher than 100 but less than 350.

Sheboygan and Washington counties meet the threshold of “very high.”

The order to limit indoor public gatherings is aimed at avoiding extreme surges at Wisconsin hospitals, as some are already struggling to keep up with demands, both because of bed space and staffing shortages, DHS said.

“The unfortunate reality is this: the disease activity level of COVID-19 in Wisconsin is so high that going to a gathering puts you at very high risk of exposure,” said DHS Secretary-designee Palm. “We know gatherings are a key way this virus spreads, so we must act to limit indoor gatherings to stop the spread, reduce illness, and save lives.”

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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.

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