Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Supreme Court in Wisconsin, US, orders state-level COVID-19 restrictions lifted as of late May 13. Local restrictions still in place.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Wausau, Wisconsin
  • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Appleton, Wisconsin
  • Eau Claire, Wisconsin
  • Green Bay, Wisconsin
  • La Crosse, Wisconsin

This alert began 14 May 2020 19:54 GMT and is scheduled to expire 18 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Wisconsin (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions

Summary
Wisconsin's Supreme Court has ordered that most state-level business and movement restrictions that had been implemented in response to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity be lifted as of May 13. The order follows a ruling by the high court that Governor Anthony Evers' stay-at-home order and his administration's related decisions lacked required approval by a committee of state legislators. Authorities had earlier extended orders requiring that residents stay at home, except to perform essential tasks, and that most nonessential businesses remain closed until May 26. The court's decision does not impact the status of in-person lessons at schools, which will remain suspended through the end of the academic year statewide.

While the decision lifted most statewide restrictions, city and county orders remain in place. Authorities in the city and county of Milwaukee are keeping several COVID-19-related restrictions in place until further notice, including a ban on gatherings and a directive prohibiting dine-in services at restaurants and bars. Personal care and retail businesses may operate with certain limitations. Local restrictions also remain in place through May 26 in Dane and Kenosha counties, and in the city of Racine. Restrictions in the city of Appleton and in Brown County will remain in place through May 20.

Transport and business disruptions remain likely. Protests in favor of and against restrictions are possible. Wisconsin could reimpose restrictions if the state's governor and legislature reach an agreement in the coming days; more individual counties could impose or tighten their own COVID-19 measures in the absence of a state-level accord.

Background and Analysis
COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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