MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Supreme Court invalidated the Department of Health Services’ extension of the state’s stay-at-home order on Wednesday, with immediate effect. Wisconsinites are now left with a patchwork of local rules and state and federal guidelines as communities confront a global pandemic that has sickened over a million people and cost at least 84,000 lives in the U.S.
WISPIRG Director Peter Skopec issued the following statement in response:
“COVID-19 continues to pose a serious risk to Wisconsinites’ health and well-being. Leading public health experts agree that, for now, physical distancing is the best way to limit the spread of this deadly disease. We should listen to the experts: Ending these restrictions now puts Wisconsinites in unnecessary danger.
“In the absence of an executive order requiring Wisconsinites to shelter in place until key benchmarks for a safe reopening are met, the legislature must act as quickly as possible to replace DHS’s ‘Safer at Home’ measures. Lawmakers should refer to criteria developed by leading public health experts at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, which include a steady decline of new COVID-19 cases, widely available testing, sufficient healthcare system capacity and effective contact tracing.
“Developing new safety measures through the legislative or administrative rulemaking process will take time. In the meantime, to stop a deadly spike in COVID-19 cases, local governments must step up immediately to put in place their own, robust stay-at-home orders.
“Finally, Wisconsin won’t be able to reopen safely without a more effective national effort to address COVID-19. Wisconsin’s and other states’ ability to stock adequate testing and medical supplies hinges on a coordinated national effort to make and distribute necessary equipment. We need national leadership to increase production of these crucial pandemic-fighting materials, and most of all, to coordinate the response to ensure states have enough supplies when they need them.”
The Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group (WISPIRG) is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organization that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in democratic society.