Wisconsin governor issues order prohibiting non-essential business and travel

MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - UPDATE 3/24:

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has issued a month-long safer at home order that prohibits all "non-essential business" and prohibits "all non-essential travel" in the state during the coronavirus outbreak.

CLICK HERE to view the order.

The order goes into effect at 8 a.m. Wednesday, March 25, and remains in effect until 8 a.m. on Friday, April 24, unless the governor announces otherwise.

On Tuesday, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced the number of positive cases of coronavirus rose to 457. The state says 8,237 tests came back negative.

There were no additional deaths to report Tuesday. The statewide total remains at five.

CLICK HERE to find out what is defined as Essential Business in Wisconsin.

"Individuals do not need special permission to leave their homes, but they must comply with this order as to when it is permissible to leave home," says Gov. Evers. "Similarly, if a business is an Essential Business or Operation as defined in this order, it does not need documentation or certification to continue its work that is done in compliance with this order."

There will be no restrictions on the following actions:

• 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

• Care for older adults, minors, dependents, people with disabilities or other vulnerable persons.

BUSINESSES CONSIDERED ESSENTIAL

• 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
• Law and safety, and essential government functions will continue under the recommended action

CLICK HERE for the full list of businesses deemed essential in Wisconsin.

"While businesses defined in the Governor’s Order as Essential Businesses and Operations are encouraged to remain open, Non-essential for-profit and non-profit businesses in Wisconsin have been instructed to cease all activities, except for minimal basic operations (e.g., maintaining inventory, preserving the business’s physical plant and equipment, processing payroll and employee benefits, etc.)," reads a statement from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

Businesses not considered essential can request a designation through the WEDC. CLICK HERE to fill out that form.

In a news conference Tuesday afternoon, the governor said he has listened to arguments about the order's possible effects on the economy.

"We want a strong economy. Who the hell doesn't?" he said. "But we also value human life. At some point we need to value that more. We can do both, and that's what this order is about."

Palm added, "Experts are saying if we don't double down and do this, health care systems won't be able to handle it."

Businesses that stay open are ordered to comply with social distancing guidelines. CLICK HERE for the state's COVID-19 response plan for businesses.

Police will not stop drivers to ask if they are on essential business.

The governor asks the public to avoid social gatherings like play dates, sleepovers, parties, large family dinners and visitors in your home.

Local emergency management offices are begging people to stop calling dispatch centers to ask questions about the orders. Fond du Lac County says its dispatch center has received a "significant number of calls" wanting information and "getting frustrated at the dispatchers when they cannot provide the information they are asking for."

Dispatchers need to able to take emergency calls.

Dr. Ryan Westergaard, Chief Medical Officer of the Bureau of Communicable Diseases, said even if the state does everything right, the number of COVID-19 cases will continue to increase for a few weeks because there are potentially thousands of people who are infected but showing no symptoms or mild symptoms.

Westergaard said if the actions states are taking now contain the threat, "it seem like a tremendous overreaction, but that is our goal" because unknown numbers of lives will have been saved.

"It's difficult to see what a historic threat this is... but observed in other countries this is really a grave situation," he said.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says COVID-19 is spread via coughs and sneezes.

"This is similar to how influenza is spread. The virus is found in droplets from the throat and nose. When someone coughs or sneezes, other people near them can breathe in those droplets. The virus can also spread when someone touches an object with the virus on it. If that person touches their mouth, face, or eyes, the virus can make them sick," says DHS.

CLICK HERE for Wisconsin's guide to COVID-19.

Here's how you can prevent the spread (INFORMATION FROM DHS):

* Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

* Stay at home as much as possible. Cancel events and avoid groups, gatherings, play dates, and nonessential appointments.

* Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.

* Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

* Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.

* Stay at least six feet away from other people.

* Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles).

CLICK HERE for a guide on how to properly disinfect your surfaces.

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PREVIOUS UPDATE

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers says he will be issuing an order that ceases "all non-essential business statewide" to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

In a tweet, the governor states he will issue a #SaferAtHome order Tuesday.

No specifics were given in the tweets, but the governor says more details will be released soon.

"Over the past few days, I’ve talked with public health experts and with business leaders and local elected officials around the state. Overwhelmingly the response I heard is that we need an all-hands-on-deck approach to stopping the spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin," says Gov. Evers. "In fact, business leaders have suggested that it is imperative to slow the growth of the disease and that the state cease all non-essential business statewide."

CLICK HERE for a document detailing which jobs the U.S. Department of Homeland Security considers essential.

Over the weekend, Wisconsin saw its largest one-day increase in cases. The state had 100 more confirmed cases from Saturday to Sunday.

There have been four deaths reported in Wisconsin.

CLICK HERE to track the outbreak in the state.

"People across our state are still out and about unnecessarily that are putting our friends, our neighbors, and our communities at risk. Please #StayHome and help us save lives," Gov. Evers tweeted. "We also need folks to limit their interactions to the same people, not different small groups. Shrinking your circle of interactions will help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately that means no sleepovers, no play dates, and no dinner parties with friends and neighbors."

"Workers providing essential care or services in our communities will be allowed to continue to travel to and from work. That includes folks like healthcare professionals, grocers, family caregivers, among other people whose work is critical for folks across our state," says Gov. Evers.

He added you can still go for a walk and a bike ride, but no other unnecessary trips, except to get groceries, medication, or see a doctor.

There will be additional details released Tuesday for what it means for everyone, but Evers said he wanted to let people know that it's coming so community members can prepare.

Evers added they will be determining Tuesday when it goes into effect, and how long it will last.

When asked how they plan to enforce the order, officials said local law enforcement will enforce the order, and expect people to comply.

State officials are also working with the state governments in Michigan and Minnesota.

In addition, officials are looking at other states to figure out what businesses can stay open.

During Monday's meeting, officials said the federal government, on the CDC website, has defined essential and non-essential, however they added Wisconsin won't be identical, but the list gives them a good idea.

State officials say they are still making decisions regarding the construction industry, and they will have a better idea for that on Tuesday. They're currently reaching out to local officials and municipalities, as well as business leaders, to make that decision.

Evers said there will be buffer times on Tuesday to give employees at work time to get home, so they will receive enough notice.

He added churches wouldn't be affected if they're live streaming services.

Over the weekend, he says they asked FEMA for non-surgical masks, coveralls, N95 masks and gloves.

In addition, five task forces have been created to ensure health care workforce can continue to serve people.

Major General Paul Knapp of the National Guard says more than 300 have been called to active duty in Wisconsin right now, with some missions already completed.

Knapp said those missions included bringing cruise ship passengers home, six medics were dispatched to a senior living facility in Grafton, and added if there's a shortage, particularly having to do with medical, they can stand in until the health care provider can get more staff in.

Officials added a PPE buyback program website will go live within the next 48 hours.

Businesses which have closed as a result of the outbreak and no longer have use for PPE supplies are asked to donate them - those supplies include N95 respirators, face masks, gloves and thermometers, among other items.

Evers added he is proud of the people in Wisconsin who are doing the best they can to help their neighbors and communities, and for those who donated or made masks for health care providers.

Wisconsin has five deaths related to complications from COVID-19. The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office is investigating the deaths of men ages 66, 69, and 54.

Action 2 News will updated this developing story. VISIT wbay.com/coronavirus for local, national and international coverage.

On Action 2 News This Morning, Prevea Health President and CEO Dr. Ashok Rai urged the governor to shut down the state.

"We need to shut the state down. Other states have done it and they'll tell you they did it too late. We have an opportunity to learn from New York. If you look at a picture of Manhattan in Times Square today it's empty. That should be the streets of Green Bay two weeks ago. A short term pain here will get us back to our normal lives sooner," says Dr. Rai.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says COVID-19 is spread via coughs and sneezes.

"This is similar to how influenza is spread. The virus is found in droplets from the throat and nose. When someone coughs or sneezes, other people near them can breathe in those droplets. The virus can also spread when someone touches an object with the virus on it. If that person touches their mouth, face, or eyes, the virus can make them sick," says DHS.

CLICK HERE for Wisconsin's guide to COVID-19.

Here's how you can prevent the spread (INFORMATION FROM DHS)

* Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

* Stay at home as much as possible. Cancel events and avoid groups, gatherings, play dates, and nonessential appointments.

* Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.

* Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

* Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.

* Stay at least six feet away from other people.

* Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles).

CLICK HERE for a guide on how to properly disinfect your surfaces.