By Shereen Siewert
As Wisconsin set another record for new COVID-19 infections Tuesday, Gov. Tony Evers addressed the state in a call for unity in fighting the virus and signed a new order “advising” residents to stay home.
The news that Evers would address the state prompted concern by some residents that another shutdown order would soon arrive, but that did not materialize. In neighboring Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday ordered bars and restaurants to stop serving at 10 p.m. and issued new restrictions limiting attendance at weddings, funeral and social gatherings. Those rules, which take effect Friday, is designed to slow the disease’s spread among young adults.
Evers has so far not followed suit with any new formal order restricting activities, though the new order asks all residents to stay home unless absolutely necessary. See the full order embedded below.
“It’s just not safe,” Evers said. “It might not be safe for awhile.”
After a challenge by Republican lawmakers, Evers’ “safer at home” order was struck down by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in May and a state appeals court last month blocked Evers’ order limiting gatherings. The state Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments Monday on the latest legal challenge to Evers’ statewide mask mandate, which remains in effect.
Evers has urged Republicans who control the Legislature to come forward with a plan to fight the virus. But the Legislature hasn’t met since April, when it passed a coronavirus aid package.
In his address on Tuesday, Evers called for putting aside partisan differences to fight the virus, noting that the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates Wisconsin will see as many as 5,000 fatalities due to COVID-19 by Jan. 1.
“That means another 2,500 people who might not be with us on New Year’s Day,” Evers said.
A global pandemic—coupled with economic uncertainty and another election season—has shaken our patience, our empathy, and our compassion for one another, Evers said, calling for residents to remember the things that unite us, including the struggles we share.
“I am concerned about what our current trajectory means for Wisconsin healthcare workers, families, and our economy if we don’t get this virus under control,” Evers said. “Our bars, restaurants, small businesses, families, and farmers will continue to suffer if we don’t take action right now—our economy cannot bounce back until we contain this virus.”
Evers said the new cases, hospitalizations and deaths are not “foregone conclusions,” but are “predictable and preventable.”
“That means the fight against this virus is winnable, but only if we fight it together,” he said.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported a record 7,073 new confirmed infections Tuesday. That breaks the old record of 7,065 cases set Saturday. There were 66 new deaths related to COVID-19 on Tuesday, breaking the old record of 64 set on Oct. 27.
Marathon County reported seven new deaths on Tuesday, bringing the county-wide death toll to 82, and 238 new cases.
The state has now seen 278,843 infections and 2,395 deaths since the pandemic began in March. Wisconsin was fourth in the nation in per capita infections over the last two weeks at 74,452 cases per 100,000 people, according to Johns Hopkins University. North Dakota was first, followed by South Dakota and Iowa.
The Wisconsin Hospital Association reported that 2,070 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Tuesday afternoon, a new record. The state has set a new record for daily hospitalizations every day since Nov. 2.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.EO094-COVIDRecommendations