Some Wisconsin local governments — including coronavirus hotspots — are dropping their own Safer at Home orders — 5/15/20

After the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home plan to tackle COVID-19, some local governments instantly adopted similar restrictions to keep communities shuttered, creating a patchwork of policies across the state. But the list of closed communities grew shorter on Thursday and Friday, as several local governments — including COVID-19 hotspots Brown County and Kenosha County — rescinded their Safer at Home orders. Citing legal guidance, local officials said the shutdowns stood on shaky legal ground.

Safer at Home is no more. So what’s next for Wisconsin? — 5/14/20

Wisconsinites spent much of Thursday examining the implications of Wednesday’s state Supreme Court ruling that struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ administration’s Safer at Home order to slow the spread of coronavirus. Among the biggest themes emerging: Wisconsin now has a patchwork of policies to address the pandemic, with some communities allowing businesses to instantly open and others enacting local orders that mirror Evers’ eviscerated policy. And some business owners still aren’t sure whether reopening is safe.

Today we highlight reporting by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Wisconsin State Journal that answers key questions about what’s next for Wisconsin during the pandemic.

Wisconsin Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order — 5/13/20

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ order to shut down much of public life to slow the spread of COVID-19, siding with Republican lawmakers who challenged the order in court.

Molly Beck of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the full details of the 4-3 ruling that thwarts Evers’ plans to address Wisconsin’s share of a pandemic that has upended life across the world.

Before the ruling Evers and DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm had extended the Safer at Home order to May 26, with plans to reopen parts of the economy in phases as health-related criteria were met. Republican lawmakers have not offered a plan of their own.

Wednesday’s ruling makes Evers’ order unenforceable, and it will force the Democrat to work with the Republican-led Legislature on a solution.

Promising pandemic news in Wisconsin while national experts issue warnings — 5/12/20

Wisconsin on Tuesday saw fewer than 200 new diagnoses of COVID-19 — the second straight day below that threshold, according to state Department of Health Services data. And fewer than 4% of tests in the latest daily results came back positive, the lowest proportion “since the state stopped including repeated tests of the same patients in its daily updates on March 30,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

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

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. 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.

Many jobless Wisconsinites grow frustrated, hungry as they wait for unemployment funds — 5/8/20

As the state Department of Workforce Development struggles to handle a surge of unemployment claims during the pandemic, many out-of-work Wisconsinites are growing increasingly desperate — finding themselves forced to make impossible choices — as they wait for their benefits to arrive, Laura Schulte reports for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Free COVID-19 testing for all African Americans, Latinos and tribal members in Wisconsin — 5/7/20

Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday announced a plan to offer free testing to all African Americans, Latinos and tribal community members in Wisconsin — an effort to address huge racial disparities among those most affected by COVID-19, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Wisconsin National Guard members will offer the free tests at community testing sites statewide, according to the report.

Brown County is among country’s fastest growing COVID-19 hotspots, and not only because of meatpacking — 5/6/20

Today we highlight reporting by the Green Bay Press Gazette on conditions in Brown County, home to one of the country’s fastest growing COVID-19 hotspots, with confirmed cases doubling every 8.8 days, according to The New York Times. Many of the cases are linked to meatpacking plants, which are fueling hotspots around the country. In a separate story, reporters Doug Schneider and Haley BeMiller note that meatpacking plants aren’t the only source spreading the virus in Brown County: assisted-living facilities are too, although county officials won’t say how many residents have been affected.

Why Wisconsin doctors are rethinking ventilator use during the coronavirus pandemic — 5/4/20

Health experts early in the COVID-19 crisis feared running short of ventilators, tools that can treat the life-threatening buildup of fluid in the lungs of patients with severe cases. But Wisconsin now has plenty of ventilators, and doctors say they are trying to avoid using the equipment, reports Bram Sable-Smith, a WPR fellow embedded in the Wisconsin Watch newsroom. Today we highlight Sable-Smith’s examination of how thinking on ventilators has evolved.

Why Wisconsin COVID-19 testing falls below ‘capacity,’ and why that matters — 5/1/20

Today we highlight the Cap Times’ deep dive into why Wisconsin labs are still unable to test for COVID-19 at their reported capacity — a key issue as state leaders decided how and when to reopen the economy. Gov. Tony Evers has announced a goal of 12,000 tests a day, far more than the roughly 2,000 daily tests the state is currently conducting, Katelyn Ferral reports. She also notes several categories of information Evers’ administration has kept secret.