Wisconsin Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order — 5/13/20

A roundup of top news and information about Wisconsin’s response to the coronavirus

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The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ order to shut down much of public life to slow the spread of COVID-19, siding with Republican lawmakers who challenged the order in court.

Molly Beck of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the full details of the 4-3 ruling that thwarts Evers’ plans to address Wisconsin’s share of a pandemic that has upended life across the world. 

Before the ruling Evers and DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm had extended the Safer at Home order to May 26, with plans to reopen parts of the economy in phases as health-related criteria were met. Republican lawmakers have not offered a plan of their own. 

Wednesday’s ruling makes Evers’ order unenforceable, and it will force the Democrat to work with the Republican-led Legislature on a solution. 

Nursing home data released

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services on Wednesday released the names of 38 nursing homes facing active COVID-19 investigations, following weeks of criticism — including from anxious family members of residents — for keeping that data secret.

In Wisconsin, just one case of a staff member or resident testing positive for COVID-19 triggers a facility-wide investigation of a nursing home. The department said it would update the nursing home data every Wednesday. 

The data does not include nursing homes with fewer than 10 beds, nor does it include homes where investigations are closed. 

The department said it had initiated 46 total nursing home investigations during the pandemic. It closes investigations 28 days after confirming the last positive case.

Residents of nursing homes are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 infections. Long-term care facilities, which include nursing homes and assisted living facilities, account for 6% of the state’s confirmed COVID-19 cases and 43% of deaths during the pandemic, according to DHS. 

“We have opted to publish the names of nursing homes in order to provide peace of mind to families who cannot visit or check on their loved ones during these unprecedented times,” DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said Wednesday in a statement

A spokeswoman last month cited “privacy concerns” in explaining the department’s earlier policy of withholding the names, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 

Below is a DHS map of the nursing homes under investigation. 


Other top stories

Ruthie Hauge / Cap Times

Sabrina Madison, founder of the Progress Center for Black Women. “Overall, mental health is still a stigma in the black community.”

Quarantine ‘magnifies’ depression, mental health struggles during COVID-19 crisisWPR 

State agriculture officials say more farmers seeking mental health counseling as COVID-19 hits industryWPR 

In-person voting rises in Wisconsin’s 2nd pandemic electionAssociated Press

Racial disparities heightened with COVID-19 crisisThe Cap Times

Few Madison retailers ready to reopen despite relaxed restrictions on shopping amid COVID-19 pandemicWisconsin State Journal

Sitting in a freezer for years, potential SARS vaccine now ready for trial on usefulness against coronavirusMilwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Racine Police Department: 25 citations issued for ‘Safer at Home’ violationsJournal Times

Kenosha, Racine counties seeing COVID-19 case surges, data showsWTMJ-TV 

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Government updates

Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Gov. Tony Evers’ office

U.S. Centers and Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization

Live updates 

Live coverage from USA Today-Wisconsin reporters 

Live coverage from Wisconsin State Journal reporters


“If you are doing a lot to prepare yourself for a magnificent comeback for when this pandemic is over or not … there is no right or wrong answer. Take time to call and check on family. Be empathetic. Take time to breathe. We are all in this together.”

TrueMan McGee, owner and head rollmaster of Funky Fresh Spring Rolls in Milwaukee, as quoted by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

More data to note

Green Bay ranks third among metro areas nationally in the daily average growth rate in COVID-19 deaths, according to tracking by The New York Times. The metro area saw 17 deaths over the last two weeks, with a 10% daily growth rate in deaths. Green Bay on Wednesday no longer appeared on the newspaper’s list of the 15 fastest-growing metro areas for confirmed COVID-19 cases. 

Below is a statewide look at the latest testing data, visualized by our partners at WisContext. After seeing two straight days of fewer than 200 new confirmed cases of the virus, new cases jumped to 291 on Wednesday, with 6.5% of tests coming back positive, Wisconsin Department of Health Services data shows.

DHS reported three additional COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, bringing total statewide deaths during the pandemic to 421. 

Wisconsin has met five of the six “gating criteria” Gov. Tony Evers outlined under his earlier plan to reopen businesses in phases. Here is a look at those metrics.

Resilient Wisconsin

People helping others and showing resilience during this time of anxiety. Send suggestions by tagging us on social media — @wisconsinwatch — or emailing us: tips@wisconsinwatchmediapartners.wpcomstaging.com.

Despite dire jobless numbers, there are still jobs to be had in Wisconsin. Here’s who’s hiring during coronavirusMilwaukee Journal Sentinel

Parents promote teacher appreciation yard-sideBeloit Daily News

KFD decontamination process puts Kenosha ‘ahead of the curve’Kenosha News 

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