The MacIver Daily Disease Brief: COVID-19 In Wisconsin, Evers Issues Shelter-In-Place Order

April 2, 2020

MacIver Staff

As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, it can seem like things are constantly changing. In Wisconsin, Governor Evers is holding regular press conferences in an effort to share with the public directly his plan to combat the virus and give us his explanation for the actions he is taking. The lead agency in the state, the Department of Health Services (DHS), is constantly re-assesssing their anti-viral strategies and as they do, new emergency orders and information are rolled out daily.

These orders from Gov. Evers directly and dramatically affect you, your family and the Wisconsin way of life. That’s why your friends at the MacIver Institute have put together this daily brief on Wisconsin’s Coronavirus status. We will be updating this document with new emergency orders as they are released. We will also update the daily status of testing and infection in the state. Make sure to check back here every day to keep up to date.

The MacIver Institute has maintained a detailed record of DHS’ day-to-day Coronavirus data releases. Here is the trend information you’ve been looking for:

Aggregated county and state data on testing and infection rate can be found on our Google Spreadsheet here.


Governor Ever’s Executive and Emergency Orders:

Certain orders below are enforceable under Wis. Stat. §252.25. This means that people who violate the order or obstruct the enforcement of the order can be charged with up to 30 days in prison, a maximum fine of $500, or both. Orders where Wis. Stat. §252.25 does apply will be noted at the end of each order summary.

Executive Order #72 declared a public health emergency in Wisconsin on March 12, 2020. Through the declaration, Governor Evers designated the Department of Health Services (DHS) as the lead responding agency to the emergency and gave the DHS authority to “suspend the provisions of any administrative rule” that would prevent the agency from taking appropriate action to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. The order also authorizes the national guard to respond to the health emergency as needed, and directs the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection to enforce crack-downs on price gauging.

Emergency Order #1 was authorized by DHS Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm on March 13, 2020. The order requires all Wisconsin public and private schools to close for student instruction and extracurricular activities. The closure was to take effect from March 18, 2020 until April 6, 2020. This order has now been amended by Order #5. See below.

Emergency Order #2 was signed by Governor Evers on March 14, 2020. It allows certain trucks to receive overweight permits, without fee, if they are transporting essential restock to grocery retailers. The order also relieves out-of-state delivery trucks from certain federal and state requirements. Finally, the order waives required permit fees for non-Wisconsin trucks to make 72-hour grocery delivery trips into Wisconsin.

Emergency Order #3 was signed by the Governor on March 15, 2020. The order suspends 27 sets of administrative rules by the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Suspensions cover various rules, including certain required medical exams for children in settings like foster care or group homes. Certain standards and requirements in the field of child care are also suspended, including mandated schedules for pay, limits on the amount of children allowed to be in one’s care, child care license requirements, and record keeping requirements, among other requirements.

Emergency Order #4 was issued on March 16, 2020 by Secretary-Designee Palm, prohibiting gatherings of 50 people or more, be they public or private gatherings, planned or spontaneous. Locations conditionally exempt from the order included food pantries, libraries, transportation facilities, grocery and convenience stores, office spaces, the state capitol, state courts, and restaurants and bars, among others. The order went into effect at midnight on March 17 and any violators may be subject to Wis. Stat. §252.25.

Emergency Order #5 was issued by Palm on March 17, 2020. The order prohibited gatherings of 10 or more people and ordered all restaurants and bars to close from normal operations by 5:00 PM on the 17th. Order #5 also required all public and private Wisconsin schools to close, from 5:00 PM on March 18 until the end of the public health emergency. The order exempts transportation services, child care facilities, government facilities, retail establishments, educational institutions for non-instructional purposes, and healthcare facilities, among others. The order allowed food establishments, like restaurants, to stay open for take-out, curbside pick-up, and delivery. Wis. Stat. §252.25 applies to any violators of this order. 

Emergency Order #6 was issued on March 18, 2020 by Secretary-Designee Palm. The order determined that licensed child care facilities are limited to no more than 10 staff members and 50 children present at one time. The order went into effect at 8:00am on March 19. Violators of the order are subject to Wis. Stat. §252.25.

Emergency Order #7 was also issued on March 18, 2020. Governor Evers signed the order to prohibit employers from firing workers who have exhibited symptoms or have contracted COVID-19. For Wisconsinites who have lost jobs due to the virus, the order suspends the weekly job-search requirement for people to make unemployment insurance claims. The order was retroactively made effective since March 12. Violators of Order #7 are subject to prosecution pursuant of Wis. Stat. §252.25.

Emergency Order #8 was signed by Secretary-Designee Palm on March 20, 2020 as an update to Emergency Order #5. Whereas Order #5 mandated that bars, restaurants, and schools be closed, Order #8 also includes the closure of “Hair salons, barber shops, nail salons, day spas, tattoo parlors, body art establishments, and tanning facilities” by 5:00 PM on March 20, 2020. #8 makes more specific which locations are exempt from the mass gathering order and further specifies how restaurants are allowed to operate. Wis. Stat. §252.25 applies to order violations, but only a maximum of $250 may be charged for a fine.

Emergency Order #9 was also signed on March 20, 2020 by Governor Evers. The order sets a temporary ban on “admissions to the state prisons and juvenile facilities operated by the Department of Corrections.” The order may be lifted by the DOC, partially or completely. Under #9, the DOC may continue to use facilities for temporary custody and detention. The order went into effect on Monday, March 23.

Emergency Order #10 was issued on March 21, 2020 by the Governor. The order suspends four administrative rules by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI). One suspension streamlines the application process for state mandated school instruction hour waivers. The second suspension waives requirements for student teaching to ensure that seniors in a teaching program may graduate on time. The final two suspensions allow the Superintendent of Public Instruction to set new deadlines for choice school submissions and for 4-K grant applications, respectively.

Emergency Order #11 was signed by the Governor on March 22, 2020, at the request of the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) Chairperson Rebecca Valcq. The order suspends 17 PSC administrative rules on the provision of electricity, gas, and water services. In the words of Chairwoman Valcq, the suspensions would “Authorize public utilities to waive late fees; Temporarily suspend disconnections, other than those needed for safety reasons; Enable customers who are unable to make a cash deposit to obtain residential service; Ensure that deferred payment agreements are available not only to residential customers but also commercial, farm, and industrial customers; [And] streamline the process for customers to apply for utility service” by suspending requirements for identity and/or residence verification.

Emergency Order #12 is the state shelter-in-place (“Safer at Home”) order issued on March 24, 2020 by Secretary-Designee Palm. The order demands that all members stay in their homes or residences and bans all non-essential travel of any kind, unless it is to get food, medicine, medical care, or other supplies to maintain quarantine. The order updates Orders #5 and #8 to further ban “all public and private gatherings of any number of people” unless the group lives under one roof. “All for-profit and non-profit businesses” with a physical presence in Wisconsin are banned from operation, with certain exceptions for essential businesses and special circumstances. Please read the Emergency Order in the link above to determine if your work or business is deemed “essential.” The order takes effect at 8:00 AM on March 25, 2020 and ends at 8:00 AM on April 24, 2020 unless a new sunset date is set by a later order. Wis. Stat. §252.25 applies to order violations with a maximum fine of $250, maximum prison sentence of 30 days, or both.

Emergency Order #13 was issued on March 26, 2020 by Governor Evers. The order allows minors between 14 and 15 years old to work without a child labor permit. Certain other requirements must be met however, such as written consent from the minor’s guardian for the child to work. 30 days after the public health emergency has ended, the employer must pay for a permit to be given to the minors hired during the duration of this order. If that permit is not attained by the employer after that 30 days, there may be prosecution. Violators of the order are subject to Wis. Stat. §252.25.

Emergency Order #14 was issued by the Governor and by Palm on March 27, 2020. The order amends Emergency Order #2, further regulating the weight of trucks that are transporting essential restock to Wisconsin grocers. Special permits given through Order #2 are now extended by Order #14 until April 11, 2020. The order is effective until the public health emergency is called off. 

Emergency Order #15 was issued by Governor Evers and Secretary-Designee Palm on March 27, 2020. The order prohibits landlords from ending someone’s renter status or initiating the eviction process on any tennant who has failed to pay rent. Sheriffs likewise cannot act on any writs of restitution by a landlord and cannot carry out an eviction order if the sole reason is the renter’s failure to pay. The only reason, under the order, that a renter may be evicted for late payment is if they also pose a threat to others by remaining at the residence. The order similarly forbids mortgage lenders and sheriffs from foreclosing on a resident who cannot pay their mortgage. The Governor insisted in his public address on Friday the 27th that this is not an excuse to stop paying rent or mortgage if it is within a person’s ability to make these payments. The order is effective for 60 days, until May 26, 2020.

Emergency Order #16 was also issued on March 27 by the Governor and the DHS Secretary-Designee. #16 loosens certain DSPS credentialing regulations among healthcare workers in order to allow more active workers into the field. The order specifically opens up interstate reciprocity to the licenses of out-of-state or Canadian healthcare providers, extends temporary healthcare licenses for workers, opens up work in telemedicine, and lessens restrictions on physycian’s assistants. It also enables qualified nurses to be quickly credentialed and allows healthcare workers whose licenses have expired in the last 5 years to re-enter into areas of medical need. A full list of changes to healthcare license regulations can be found in the order. The order is in effect until the end of the public health emergency and violators are subject to a maximum $250 fine and/or 30 days imprisonment under Wis. Stat. §252.25.

Emergency Order #17 was signed into effect on March 27, 2020 by the Governor. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) normally regulates, through nutrient management plans, how farmers may dump farm waste to fertilize their fields. The rule is to ensure that the dumped waste, like manure, does not contaminate any groundwater or waterways. Emergency Order #17 suspends that rule for certain small and medium sized farm owners who are unable to meet their nutrient management plan requirements during the state of emergency. The companion directive allows those farms to dispose of unused, excess milk as fertilizer on their properties, without the regulation. This order is in effect until the end of the public health emergency.

Emergency Order #18 was issued on March 30, 2020 by Evers and Palm to suspend six more DCF administrative rules. If a child has been initially determined to have been abused or neglected, the first suspension waives the required time period in which a review or a rescheduled review must be held on the determination. The order also suspends the deadline in which a newly placed foster child must receive a medical and dental exam. Another suspension makes it allowable for a hold-over room to hold a child for more than 24 hours and for a shelter facility to house a child for more than 30 days. #18 also suspends the deadline for when children receiving social services must have a physical exam. The last suspension waives the required time in which certain newly hired Wisconsin Works employees must complete their initial training. This order does not supersede any previous orders. The emergency order is in effect until the end of the emergency. 

Last updated April 2, 2020. Check back every day for new data updates to keep yourself informed.