Jeramey Jannene

Evers Joins Six Governors in Planning Reopening

Wisconsin partners with Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.

By - Apr 16th, 2020 04:07 pm
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Governor Tony Evers addresses the media on April 16th. Image from the Department of Health Services.

Governor Tony Evers addresses the media on April 16th. Image from the Department of Health Services.

Governor Tony Evers has joined the governors of Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky in planning how and when to reopen the state’s businesses and economy.

“Moving forward we know that businesses need some clarity so they can begin to plan,” Evers said in a media briefing Thursday afternoon.

The governors, a group of five Democrats and two Republicans, are coordinating on benchmarks and strategies.

“Phasing in sectors of our economy will be most effective when we work together as a region,” said Evers.

But Evers cautioned that in each state the sequence and speed could be different.

“Our number one priority in analyzing when to reopen our economy is the safety of our citizens,” he said.

The bi-partisan group is focused on four factors – the spread of the disease, testing capacity, health care capacity and implementation of workplace social distancing.

“First we need a massive expansion of our testing capacity,” said Evers. “In order to support a testing capacity increase, we will need to grow our healthcare workforce and have personal protective equipment (PPE).” He said there remains a PPE shortage.

Wisconsin has the capacity to test approximately 7,600 COVID-19 people per day, but Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said that is still not sufficient to implement contact tracing practices that would test everyone known to have come into contact with a positive COVID-19 case.

Evers said he can’t give a specific date for when things could change. “We are going to be working hard as hell in the meantime to make sure we have these things done,” he said.

“We have to continue to flatten the curve and we haven’t gotten there yet,” said Evers. He said the state would not open certain geographic areas before others to avoid overwhelming healthcare capacity with a surge, particularly in rural areas. “We are doing it for them.”

Evers extended Wisconsin’s “safer at home” order through May 26th on Thursday afternoon. It was originally scheduled to expire on April 24th after before going into effect on March 25th. The extended order does expand the number of permitted activities, including allowing people to golf with restrictions.

Evers partnership is with JB Pritzker (Illinois), Eric Holcomb (Indiana), Andy Beshear (Kentucky), Gretchen Whitmer (Michigan), Tim Walz (Minnesota) and Mike DeWine (Ohio).

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