Governor Tony Evers has extended the Wisconsin’s Safer-at-Home order until May 26. It was met by backlash from Republicans and is likely headed to the Supreme Court.
Evers has directed Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to extend the order. There are a number of changes to the original order including Evers directing public and private K-12 schools to remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
“A few weeks ago, we had a pretty grim outlook for what COVID-19 could mean for our state, but because of the efforts of all of you, Safer at Home is working. That said, we aren’t out of the woods just yet,” said Gov. Evers. “As I’ve said all along, we are going to rely on the science and public health experts to guide us through this challenge. So, as we extend Safer at Home, I need all of you to continue doing the good work you’ve been doing so we can keep our families, our neighbors, and our communities safe, and get through this storm together.”
“Before we lift Safer at Home, the steps of testing and more robust public health measures must be in place,” explained Secretary-designee Palm. “These steps will help us reduce the risk of a second wave of the virus. If we open up too soon, we risk overwhelming our hospitals and requiring more drastic physical distancing measures again.”
Shortly after the announcement, Republican legislators were quick to point out that the Gov. Evers’ emergency powers last 60 days and after that the state legislature would need to extend any further action.
Evers declared a public health emergency on March 12 and Republicans believe those powers will run out on May 11 and not May 26, when the Safer-at-Home was extended to.
However, the secretary of health services has separate powers and no defined time limit
State law states the Department of Health Services “may close schools and forbid public gatherings in schools, churches, and other places to control outbreaks and epidemics.”
State Senator Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst, he also is the Republican candidate for the 7th Congressional District, went to Twitter to explain the issue.
“Last week, @GovEvers deflated the hopes of people across Wisconsin with the announcement of shutting down the state through May. Most people understood constraining their lives through April 24. Unfortunately the Governor provided no plan for the future,” Tiffany wrote.
He added, “This week, the Legislature will provide leadership and an optimistic new direction for the people of our great state. The power grab by a career bureaucrat with no past ties to Wisconsin will be challenged. A plan to safely and responsibly reopen will be created.”
State Senator Alberta Darling of River Hills told a Milwaukee TV station that they will be going to the Supreme Court.
“People are really desperate, we’re losing jobs,” Darling told WITI. “There’s so many people who file for unemployment. It’s just very, very frightening. We have to get Wisconsin back to work.”