Jeramey Jannene

Evers Releases ‘Badger Bounce Back’ Plan

Lays out six criteria for reopening economy, getting Wisconsin back to work.

By - Apr 20th, 2020 01:49 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 announced criteria for how the “Safer at Home” order will be lifted.

Known as the “Badger Bounce Back,” Evers said the plan is based on federal guidelines. It includes six criteria the state will use.

Evers had announced an extension of the “Safer at Home” order last week, pushing the closure from April 24th to May 26th while also loosening some restrictions like allowing golfing and library drive-ups.

“This is going to take careful preparation and planning to ensure our state can bounce back from COVID-19,” said Evers in a briefing on Monday. “This plan is an all-out war on the virus.”

But he said even when the six criteria are met, the economy would still reopen in phases. “This won’t be like turning off a switch,” said Evers last Thursday.

The program articulates criteria Evers had touched on during a briefing last week, including expanding testing capacity, expanding contact tracing capabilities and having a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment (PPE).

First, the number of COVID-19 cases must be on a downward trajectory. “Over the course of 14 days we consistently see fewer and fewer people reporting flu-like illnesses and COVID-like cases,” said the Wisconsin Department of Health Services in a statement outlining the criteria.

Second, the percentage of tests coming back positive for COVID-19 also must drop. The state has averaged a 9.76 percent positive test rate in April.

Next, the health care system must be able to treat all patients without crisis care. This includes decreasing the number of infected healthcare workers.

Fourth, testing must be more readily available. Results must be available to symptomatic residents within 48 hours of collection. “We are setting a goal of 85,000 tests per week, about 12,000 tests per day,” said Evers. The state reported last week that collectively labs across the state could process over 7,500 tests per day. He said the Wisconsin National Guard will be involved in testing in areas with growing outbreaks.

Contact tracing also must be expanded. The benchmark set in the bounce-back plan calls for every individual that tests positive being interviewed within 24 hours and their contacts to be interviewed within 48 hours. Evers said the state hopes to hire 1,000 individuals to work on contact tracing. It reported a few dozen new hires last week.

Finally, PPE supplies must be more readily available for healthcare and public safety workers. The guidance calls for an “adequate” supply. According to a Wisconsin Hospital Association dashboard, 67 hospitals across the state report having less than a seven-day supply of PPE products. “Certainly we aren’t satisfied with the amount of PPE we have,” said Evers. DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said the state is exploring decontamination technology to allow PPE to be reused. “We are pressing on every lever we have,” she said.

Palm said that phase one of the reopening would include restaurants reopening, child care resuming and group meetings of up to 10 people. A second phase would allow bars to reopen and events of up to 50 people.

The criteria would not need to be satisfied in sequence. “Those things will be measured simultaneously,” said Evers.

“We are committed to opening up the state without opening ourselves up to a resurgence of the virus,” said Palm. “Badger Bounce Back is an interconnected plan and progress on just one aspect will not mean success.”

“I know that these continue to be difficult times,” said Evers. He thanked Wisconsin residents for their patience and commitment to staying home.

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