Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers allows retailers to reopen with restrictions; Speaker Robin Vos appears to shift position on managing economy — 5/11/20

A roundup of top news and information about Wisconsin’s response to the coronavirus

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Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers issued an emergency order Monday that allows all standalone or strip mall-based retail stores to reopen with tight limits, in what Evers called the latest “turn of the dial” on efforts to reopen Wisconsin businesses shuttered by his Safer at Home order to slow the spread of coronavirus. 

No more than five people may shop at a time, and social distancing must be practiced at stores reopening under Evers’ order. The Democrat acknowledged that larger stores, such as Kohl’s, may not find it feasible to reopen, Mitchell Schmidt reported for the Wisconsin State Journal.

Drive-in theaters may also reopen with restrictions. 

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos panned the order in a statement that appeared to significantly shift the position he staked out last week on how to manage the economy during the pandemic. Vos called the order “confusing,” insisting that conditions had improved enough that “It’s time to get everyone back to work in every part of the state.”

The call for an immediate statewide reopening of businesses came just four days after GOP Assembly leaders held a news conference calling for a regionally based reopening, with parts of the state handling fewer COVID-19 cases opening businesses more quickly first. Vos also pushed the regional reopening message during a May 6 Wisconsin Health News webinar.

Asked Monday whether Vos was ditching his call for a regional approach in favor of a swift statewide reopening, Vos spokeswoman Kit Beyer did not directly answer.

“The curve has flattened. Our health care systems are meeting the needs and now underutilized. Enough progress has been made that it makes sense to begin reopening businesses safely around the state,” she wrote in an email to Wisconsin Watch. “Speaker Vos is frankly fed up with the random orders. He still wants to work with the governor to reopen the state, but there needs to be consistency.”

Republican legislative leaders have yet to offer a detailed plan to counter Evers’ Badger Bounce Back plan, and they are suing to overturn the governor’s Safer at Home order extension, which ends May 26.

“We shouldn’t have a Republican plan or a governor’s plan, we need a Wisconsin plan that the entire state can get behind,” Vos said in a statement earlier this month.

Top Stories

John Hart / Wisconsin State Journal

Retailers on State Street in Madison would be allowed to reopen, as long as such businesses only allow up to five customers at a time, under new COVID-19 restrictions announced by Gov. Tony Evers.

Retailers allowed to reopen with no more than 5 customers at a time under new orderWisconsin State Journal 

As COVID-19 spreads, so do conspiracy theories. A Wisconsin professor teaches ways to confront them.The Cap Times/Wisconsin Watch

‘Day 54 and finally some financial relief’: Madison Bartender Amy Moreland on waiting for federal unemployment aidWPR/Wisconsin Watch

As businesses hope to reopen, COVID-19 hot spots emerge across stateWPR 

As grim stories emerge from long-term care centers, one took steps to halt coronavirus and keep everyone safeMilwaukee Journal Sentinel

Coordinating or going rogue on COVID-19: How is your state responding?Lee Enterprises Midwest 

Some blame meatpacking workers, not plants, for COVID-19 coronavirus spreadAssociated Press 

While concerns remain about reaching people of color, Wisconsin’s free coronavirus testing is for everyoneMilwaukee Journal Sentinel 

What are we missing? And how are you coping? Help us provide critical information and accountability by filling out this form or emailing us at tips@wisconsinwatch.org.

Government updates

Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Gov. Tony Evers’ office

U.S. Centers and Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization

Live updates

Live coverage from USA Today-Wisconsin reporters 

Live coverage from Wisconsin State Journal reporters

Quotable

“I don’t think there’s anybody in the country who’s happy with the economy, the direction of the economy right now. I think everybody’s unhappy that we have to have these stay-at-home orders, that the economy has completely come to a halt, that people are losing their jobs. So I think once when we understand we all have the shared interest of resuming our economy, I think you can look at information a little differently. Maybe that mistrust can dissipate a little bit.”

Ajay Sethi, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and director of its Master of Public Health program, as quoted by Parker Schorr, a Cap Times reporting fellow embedded in the Wisconsin Watch newsroom.

Data to note

From our partners at WisContext:

Resilient Wisconsin

People helping others and showing resilience during this time of anxiety. Send suggestions by tagging us on social media — @wisconsinwatch — or emailing us: tips@wisconsinwatch.org.

The Historic West Bend Theatre is confronting the pandemic with a bit of humor, according to this post on Reddit. 

That’s for damn sure. from r/wisconsin

4 ways Milwaukeeans are coping with the ‘new normal,’ from re-creating classic art to movie popcorn to goMilwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Local writer’s COVID-19 poem goes viralDaily Jefferson County Union

Door County Boys & Girls Club, Meals Cooperative offer free weekend meal kits for familiesGreen Bay Press-Gazette 

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