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Seeking To Prevent Hundreds Of Deaths, Wisconsinites Ordered To Stay Home Starting Wednesday


The “Safer at Home” order directed by Gov. Tony Evers is now official and will take effect at 8 a.m. on Wednesday.

The order prohibits all nonessential travel, and closes nonessential businesses, in Wisconsin.  It’s the most drastic step the state has taken in fighting the COVID-19 outbreak. 

On Tuesday, Andrea Palm, the Secretary-designee of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, painted a dire projection for the state without the order.

“If we continue on our current path without implementing Safer at Home to flatten the curve, the models show us that we would likely have 22,000 Wisconsinites who are positive for COVID-19 by April 8 and an estimated 440 to 1,500 deaths,” Palm said in a virtual press conference with reporters.

The order will stay in effect until Apr. 24, unless it’s superseded.  You can read the full order here.

“I’m going to continue to ask for your help, not only to remember [our] values, but to do your part to keep our friends, our family, and, frankly, most importantly, our health care workers and communities safe,” Evers said Tuesday.  “We need folks to take the Safer at Home order I signed today seriously.”

People are able to leave home to do things like see a doctor, get medicine, buy groceries, or care for a family member.  Under the order, some types of businesses can remain open.  A full list is below.

The state is telling people to only have contact with the same five people during the stay-at-home order.

“Shrinking your circle of interactions will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to make sure our health care system doesn’t become overwhelmed,” Evers said.

“This is hard.  Humans are social beings.  We’re not wired this way,” added Palm.  “This COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting changes in your life and your lifestyles can make anybody anxious and even depressed.  Do not hesitate to ask for help if you are feeling overwhelmed.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the state had reported 457 positive cases of COVID-19 in the state, including five deaths.  The closest positive result to the Northwoods remained in Marathon County.

According to Tuesday’s order, people in Wisconsin are able to leave home to:

  • Perform tasks essential to maintain health and safety, such as obtaining medicine or seeing a doctor;
  • Get necessary services or supplies for themselves or their family or household members, such as getting food and supplies, pet food and supplies necessary for staying at home;
  • Care for a family member in another household; and
  • Care for older adults, minors, dependents, people with disabilities or other vulnerable persons.

Several types of businesses are exempted from the order, including, but not limited to:

  • Health care operations, including home health workers;
  • Critical infrastructure;
  • Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise vulnerable individuals;
  • Fresh and non-perishable food retailers, including convenience stores, grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and food banks;
  • Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food and goods directly to residences;
  • Pharmacies, health care supply stores and health care facilities;
  • Child care facilities, with some limitations; 
  • Gas stations and auto repair facilities;
  • Banks;
  • Laundry businesses, dry cleaners and services necessary for maintaining the safety, sanitation and essential operation of a residence, including garbage collection;
  • Hardware stores, plumbers, and electricians;
  • Educational institutions, for the purposes of facilitating distance learning;
  • Roles required for any business to maintain minimum basic operations, which includes security, and payroll; and  
  • Law and safety, and essential government functions will continue under the recommended action.
Ben worked as the Special Topics Correspondent at WXPR from September 2019 until November 2021. He now contributes occasionally to WXPR. During his full-time employment, his main focus was reporting on environment and natural resources issues in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula as part of The Stream, a weekly series.