By Shereen Siewert

Wausau Mayor Robert Mielke on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in the city, which allows officials to temporarily suspend ordinances and resolutions to allow a more immediate response for emergency purchases and decisions.

The declaration authorizes emergency purchases of services and also authorizes closing or limiting public access to city departments, buildings and facilities as necessary.

In addition, Wednesday’s proclamation authorizes that “all appropriate measures be taken related to city employees in addressing and responding” to the state of emergency for as long as it exists.

The declaration comes two days after Gov. Tony Evers’ emergency declaration and aims to ensure the city will be eligible to receive state and federal resources during the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a news release.

It enables me to act with promptness within the powers conferred upon the Council during states of emergency to order whatever is expedient and necessary to protect the health of persons and welfare of persons and property,” Mielke said.

The proclamation is subject to council approval or alteration at the group’s March 24 meeting.

“First and foremost, I want to ask residents to stay vigilant and cautious, yet remain calm and follow guidance from the Marathon County Health Department and the State Division of Health, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and remain diligent in taking steps to protect yourself and your family as directed,” Mielke said in his release. “Limiting travel and personal contact and public settings will assist in reducing your exposure. The more we follow the guidance coming from our health officials, the easier it will be to control the spread of the virus and ease the strain on our health care system.”

In a separate release, Mielke released new policies for city employees, some of whom will be allowed to work from home or request a schedule change.

Members of the city council are meeting this week to discuss calling in for scheduled meetings in the wake of the COVID-19 restrictions, but no announcement has yet been made regarding public participation in future meetings.