State judge upholds Gov. Tony Evers’ mask mandate; GOP targets limits on gatherings as COVID-19 cases keep surging — 10/12/20

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

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A Wisconsin judge on Monday upheld Gov. Tony Evers’ statewide mask mandate as the coronavirus continues to spread statewide, filling hospitals.

“The conservative group that brought the lawsuit promised to immediately appeal,” Molly Beck and Patrick Marley report. “St. Croix County Circuit Judge R. Michael Waterman denied a request by those who sued to suspend the mask requirement and ruled the governor has the power to issue multiple health emergency orders in response to the same pandemic.” 

Public health experts tout mask-wearing as a key tool for slowing the spread of COVID-19.

The ruling comes more than four months after the Wisconsin Supreme Court sided with the Republican-controlled Legislature in striking down Evers farther-reaching Safer at Home order, leaving Wisconsin without a statewide plan to manage the virus.

Evers last week directed his health chief to order limits on certain public gatherings to 25% of a room or building’s capacity — on top of the embattled mask mandate. But Republicans, who have not offered any pandemic plans of their own, moved Monday to overturn that order. 

“The Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules voted 6-4 on party lines to require Evers’ Department of Health Services to submit formal rules on the matter within 30 days. The committee could then block those rules, eliminating the limits as soon as Nov. 11,” Beck and Marley report.

Top Stories 

Barry Adams / State Journal

Terry Chier, owner of Door County Sunglass Company in Egg Harbor, said it was impossible to make up for six weeks of lost sales when his business was closed for much of April and May. But he met his adjusted sales projections for the rest of the summer.

Judge denies GOP effort to end Tony Evers’ mask mandate, upholding governor’s ability to issue health ordersMilwaukee Journal Sentinel 

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Masked up and pushing the outdoors, Door County trying to surviveWisconsin State Journal 

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More than 3,000 UW-Madison students have contracted COVID-19. This is one student’s storyWisconsin State Journal 

‘It’s going to get real hard’: Dual threat looms for homeless facing winter, virus surgeWisconsin State Journal 

While health departments hope for statewide COVID plan, Republicans still don’t think one is necessaryJournal Times 

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Quotable

“Wisconsin’s employers have taken countless steps to ensure workers, customers and the public are protected, but we must all continue to observe these guidelines and best practices outside the workplace. To ensure a robust economic comeback, our business leaders must also be community leaders as we all work together to slow the spread and safely reopen our economy.”

—  Kurt Bauer, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce President & CEO, in a statement announcing a “Stop the COVID Spread” campaign among health care and business advocacy groups

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We know that when classes are virtual, many Wisconsin students and families lose access to food schools provide. And as the school year starts, some meal sites are closing. Share your experience with News414, Wisconsin Watch’s service journalism collaboration with Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service and Outlier Media. Click here for details.

You can also view a list of Milwaukee-area food distribution sites for students here.

Data to note

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services on Monday reported nine additional deaths linked to COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to 1,474 during the pandemic.

Here is a visualization of trends in cases and deaths from our partners at WisContext. 

Wisconsin also set another daily record for COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 950 patients receiving treatment in hospitals as of Monday — up from 894 patients Friday, according to the Wisconsin Hospital Association. 

Here is a look at trends from WHA’s dashboard.

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