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Despite Court Ruling, Some WI Cities Enforce Stay-At-Home


MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin's stay-at-home order for the pandemic was due to run through late May, until the state Supreme Court ended it much sooner. However, that isn't stopping local and county governments from carrying out their own orders.

Top GOP lawmakers had challenged the order from the Democratic governor, and the Republican-leaning high court declared it unconstitutional this week.

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway says even though the state order is no longer in effect, her county still wants residents to avoid unnecessary outings through May 26. "What the Supreme Court did was just throw everything open," says Rhodes-Conway. "No precaution, nothing based on, you know, best practices in public health. Here in Madison, we will be turning a dial, not flipping a switch." The mayor says her office is working with Dane County and public health officials, examining COVID-19 data to set a path toward a phased reopening.

Other counties, including Brown and Kenosha, are keeping local orders in place for certain periods of time.

Republican lawmakers who pushed for the ruling say the order had dragged on long enough, and that the Legislature didn't have enough say in the response to COVID-19. A patchwork of ordinances that conflict with the state-level decision is prompting confusion over how the public should act during the crisis.

Rhodes-Conway says she understands the debate might invoke more fears, but in her view, that shouldn't stand in the way of a measured approach. "The economic pain caused by this pandemic is very, very real," says Rhodes-Conway. "But I think that it is important for us to continue to be guided by science."

Prior to the ruling, Gov. Tony Evers had already announced an immediate easing of restrictions on certain business activity. Wisconsin has seen more than 10,000 coronavirus cases, with more than 400 deaths.

Mike Moen is the Morning Edition producer and serves as a staff reporter for WNIJ. Every morning, he works with Dan Klefstad to bring listeners the latest Illinois news. He also works with the rest of the news staff on developing and producing in-depth stories. Mike is a Minnesota native who likes movies, history, and baseball. When most people hear his last name, they assume he is 100-percent Scandinavian. But, believe it or not, he is mostly German.
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