Graham Kilmer

Evers Issues New COVID-19 Order

This order re-ups the statewide mask-mandate.

By - Nov 20th, 2020 06:48 pm
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. File photo from the Department of Health Services.

Governor Tony Evers declared a new public health emergency Friday as the state’s healthcare systems are facing multiple crises as they reach peak capacity and face staff shortages.

“We continue to see record-setting days of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin. We need everyone to stay home and wear a mask if you have to go out. We need your help to stop the spread of this virus, and we all have to do this together,” said Evers in a statement.

Upon declaring the public health emergency, Evers issued a new executive order extending the mask mandate statewide for the next 60 days. The order essentially pertains to all public spaces, including outdoor spaces. The order specifically notes that outdoor bars and restaurants would be covered by the order.

Public health officials have been warning for weeks that if the current surge in COVID-19 did not abate, the state’s hospitals would become overwhelmed.

Andrea Palm, Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee said that hospitals are already being overwhelmed. “We know hospitalizations are a lagging indicator, which means we will need even more capacity for our hospitals in the coming weeks with our current cases,” she said.

The state is divided into seven Healthcare Emergency Readiness Regions, and currently there are hospitals in every region reporting that Intensive Care Units (ICU) are filling up and may soon not be able to accept new patients, according to Evers’ emergency declaration.

71 of the state’s 72 counties have a “Critically High” level of disease, according to the DHS Activity Level Report. The state had to make the new ranking last week after the spread of cases exceeded two prior “high” levels.

More than one-third of all the state’s hospitals are at capacity and unable to admit new patients, the declaration said.

On top of the capacity issues, hospitals and healthcare systems are reporting a worker shortage. In fact, one-third of hospitals are reporting a critical staffing shortage, the declaration states. Hospitals are requesting and receiving emergency staffing from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But 42% of the state’s hospitals expect to be critically short on staff within a week.

Every one of Evers’ health orders since the beginning of the pandemic have been targeted by Republican-backed lawsuits, a number of them leading to state Supreme Court decisions curtailing the mechanisms the governor can use to address the pandemic. Palm’s authority to issue orders was largely stripped by a May Supreme Court ruling.

Read the emergency declaration here. Read the executive order here.

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More about the Coronavirus Pandemic

Read more about Coronavirus Pandemic here

More about the Statewide Mask Mandate

Read more about Statewide Mask Mandate here

Categories: Health

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