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With Wisconsin in the national spotlight for a COVID-19 surge that is increasingly killing and hospitalizing residents, Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday directed his health chief to order limits on public gatherings to 25% of a room or building’s capacity.
The order from Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm takes effect at 8 a.m. Thursday and lasts through Nov. 6. It applies to “any gatherings at locations that are open to the public such as stores, restaurants, and other businesses that allow public entry, as well as spaces with ticketed events,” Evers’ office said in a press release Tuesday, which included a list of frequently asked questions. The order also affects bars.
“We’re in a crisis right now and need to immediately change our behavior to save lives,” Evers in a statement. “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.”
The order builds on Evers’ mask mandate, issued in September, which a conservative legal group is challenging in court. Public health experts tout mask-wearing as a key tool for slowing the spread of COVID-19.
The latest order could face new legal challenges, and it comes more than four months after the Wisconsin Supreme Court sided with the Republican-controlled Legislature in striking down Evers and Palm’s farther-reaching Safer at Home order, leaving Wisconsin without a statewide plan to manage the virus.
GOP lawmakers have offered no pandemic plans of their own. WisPolitics reports that Wisconsin’s Legislature, which has not passed a bill since April, is the least active full-time legislature in the nation since the pandemic began.
GOP lawmakers stand still as virus rages in Wisconsin — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Another Wisconsin prison has massive COVID-19 outbreak; more than 300 cases reported — Wisconsin State Journal
Less than 2% of Wisconsinites have coronavirus antibodies, preliminary results from study show — Appleton Post-Crescent
Spike in COVID-19 cases on Menominee reservation prompts tribal officials to issue emergency orders — Green Bay Press-Gazette
Food access trouble?
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
DHS reported 18 additional COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 1,399 confirmed during the pandemic.
Here is a look at trends in cases, deaths and positive tests from our partners at WisContext.
Wisconsin continues to set daily records for COVID-19 hospitalizations. Hospitals statewide reported 853 COVID-19 patients on Tuesday, a dramatic increase from 782 patients just a day earlier.
Here are the latest data from the Wisconsin Hospital Association.
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Report: Increase in state auditors helped boost corporate tax collections 20% — Wisconsin State Journal