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Court: Local health officers can issue unilateral orders

Katie Thoresen/WXPR

The state Supreme Court says local health officers can legally issue orders to slow diseases unilaterally.

The ruling Friday affirms that health officers don’t need to wait for governing bodies such as city councils and county boards to take action.

The decision marks the culmination of a lawsuit two parents filed in 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plaintiffs challenged orders from Dane County’s health director banning indoor gatherings as unconstitutional.

Liberal-leaning Justice Jill Karofsky wrote for the majority that Wisconsin law clearly authorizes public health officers to issue such orders and has since the state was a territory.

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