Evers Unveils Phased Plan To Reopen Wisconsin’s Economy

Apr 20, 2020

Credit State of Wisconsin

Gov. Tony Evers laid out a three-phase, metrics-oriented method for reopening the state’s economy on Monday.

His administration is calling it Badger Bounce Back. Its release comes four days after Evers ordered the state’s Safer at Home order extended through May 26.

Evers said the phased program is informed by guidance given by the Trump administration last Thursday.

“I am excited and hopeful about this plan,” Evers said in a statement. “While being safe at home continues to be important, this plan is an all-out attack on the virus and it begins the process of preparing our businesses and our workforce for the important planning that will result in the safe and logical reopening of our economy.”

The plan seeks to measure decreasing COVID-19 positive tests over a 14-day period before moving to its next phase. Each phase would allow more people to gather and businesses to offer more services.

“We are committed to opening up the state without opening ourselves up to a resurgence of the virus. That is how we can protect the wellbeing of our people and our economy in the most effective way,” said Department of Health Services Sec.-designee Andrea Palm.

Additionally, Evers said, everyone who needs a COVID-19 test should get a test. His administration is seeking to offer 85,000 tests per week.

It’s also seeking to get even more aggressive with contact tracing, interviewing each COVID-positive patient within 24 hours and each contact of a COVID-positive patient within 48 hours.

The order was officially promulgated by Andrea Palm, the secretary-designee of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. It includes the following phases:

  • Phase One will include allowing mass gatherings of up to 10 people; restaurants opening with social distancing requirements; removal of certain restrictions including retail restrictions for Essential Businesses and Operations; additional operations for non-essential businesses; K-12 schools to resume in person operation; and child care settings resuming full operation.
  • Phase Two will include allowing mass gatherings of up to 50 people; restaurants resuming full operation; bars reopening with social distancing requirements; non-essential businesses resuming operations with social distancing requirements; and postsecondary education institutions may resume operation.
  • Phase Three will resume all business activity and gatherings, with minimal protective and preventative measures in place for the general public and more protective measures for vulnerable populations.

Before moving to the next phase, the state must show a downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses reported within a 14-day period, a downward trajectory of COVID-19-like syndromic cases reported in a 14-day period, and a downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period.

Evers indicated it’s possible Wisconsin could reach the Phase One loosening of restrictions even before his Safer at Home order is set to expire May 26.

“We have a shot of doing that, but we don’t know for sure, obviously, or I would tell you that,” he said. “We’re going to work. It’s a 24/7 thing. I am very, very hopeful that we will get there.”