WED AM News: MMAC urged Evers to issue stay-at-home order; Evers’ order includes lengthy list of essential businesses

— MMAC President Tim Sheehy said his organization urged Gov. Tony Evers in a Sunday night call to issue a stay-at-home order after a briefing members received from medical professionals that morning.

He said the experience of MMAC members in overseas markets also played a role in the group’s pivot to believing such a step was necessary.

Evers on Friday said he didn’t expect to issue a stay-at-home order, though he’d follow the science on that. But he switched course Monday, saying he made the decision after discussions with medical professionals and business leaders, among others.

Sheehy said on Friday 40 Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce were prepared to sign a letter outlining the steps they’d been taking to address COVID-19 and why they wanted to keep their businesses open.

But that changed over the weekend as members got more information.

Sheehy said while the group supported the move, members would’ve appreciated more details on Monday as the guv announced plans to take the step because “anything that knocks us off the center point of certainty causes confusion.”

He also said MMAC would’ve preferred a shorter order than one that runs through April 24 with adjustments made as needed.

“Businesses want more than anything certainty and clarity,” Sheehy said. “How long is this tunnel? I can do this for two or three weeks and get through it OK. The longer this tunnel is, the worse the economic damage is going to be.” 

See the story in WisBusiness: 

— Gov. Tony Evers’ sweeping stay-at-home order includes a lengthy list of essential businesses that will be allowed to continue operations, though they were directed to limit person-to-person contact and meet social distancing requirements. 

Door-to-door solicitation was also banned, regardless of its purpose.

Those companies that will be allowed to remain open include manufacturers, distributors and supply chain companies producing products and services for industries that range from healthcare to national defense.

The list of essential businesses include:

*stores selling groceries and medicine, including bakeries and farm and produce stands;

*restaurants, though they are limited to take out and delivery; bars, including brewpubs, wineries and distilleries, will only be allowed carryout sales if permitted by state law and municipal ordinance. Wineries may also utilize shippers’ permits;

*child care centers, though they must prioritize the children of those working in health care;

*wedding, funerals and religious entities, though they are restricted to gatherings of 10 or fewer people while adhering to social distancing;

*Gas stations and companies that provide supply, repair and sales for automobiles, motorcycles, boats and bicycles.

*Critical trades ranging from plumbers and electricians to exterminators and arborists who “provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residence.”

*Organized labor functions such as “the administration of health and welfare funds and personnel checking on the well-being and safety of members providing services” in essential businesses — provided the checks are done by phone or remotely;

*Hotels and motels, though they must stop guests from gathering in crowds and must shut down pools, hot tubs and exercise centers.

Businesses unsure if they meet the standard to remain open can inquire with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. 

The order is enforceable by local law enforcement, including sheriffs, and violations carry a penalty of up to 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $250 or both. The state order also supersedes local ones that conflict with it.

Evers Chief Legal Counsel Ryan Nilsestuen said police won’t be pulling people over and asking for proof their travel is essential. The state is hoping for voluntary compliance.

See the release:

See the order:

Click here for links to coronavirus resources:

— A WEDC webpage with information on essential businesses crashed yesterday due to a high volume of traffic after the “safer at home” order was issued, but it’s now back online.

Agency spokesman David Callender said the site received 30 requests for information in about an hour before going down. The site normally handles around 1,000 sessions on any given day, but yesterday that number was around 100,000 for the day, Callender said. Several hours later, the agency tweeted that the site was back up.

See the page: 

— State health officials say the coming weeks will tell if new containment measures for the coronavirus outbreak are having a big impact. 

Still, they expect the outbreak to get worse before it gets better. 

The number of positive cases in Wisconsin increased to 457 from 416 as of 2 p.m. yesterday, according to the state Department of Health Services. Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer for DHS, says that number could double in the next week “even if we do everything right.” 

DHS Secretary Andrea Palm said in yesterday’s briefing that without Gov. Tony Evers’ “safer at home” order, “we would likely have 22,000 positive cases by April 8 and an estimated 440 to 1,500 deaths.”

Westergaard said the state’s current infection count is limited by test availability and regulations for getting tested, noting “it’s almost certainly quite a bit larger” than the official tally. 

“I think we’d expect under any circumstances for the numbers to continue to increase over the next coming weeks,” he said. “But after that point, if we don’t see growth of the epidemic — if we see a leveling or tailing off — that will be a sign that the things we’re doing are successful.” 

Westergaard also said state health officials are continually learning new things about the virus, including that a “very high proportion” of people who contract the virus only present mild symptoms. That means the vast majority of infected people won’t require medical care. But for every patient coming into the hospital, 10 more could be out spreading the disease, he said. 

He said that risk justifies the escalating response by state officials aimed at slowing the spread of the virus. Palm said the state’s current top priority is keeping the health care system from being overwhelmed. 

Listen to the call: 

— Wisconsin deaths from COVID-19 remain at five, but the number of positive cases has jumped to 457 from 416, according to the Department of Health Services. 

DHS says 30 counties have positive cases, the most cases being in the southeastern part of the state with outbreaks also dotting the central and upmost portion of Wisconsin. 

Eight counties have been identified as having community spread. These are Brown, Columbia, Dane, Fond du Lac, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Walworth and Waukesha counties.

Around 20 percent of people who have tested positive have been hospitalized, according to Dr. Ryan Westergaard in the DHS public briefing. 

Click here for links to coronavirus resources: 

— A public health expert and medical doctor emphasized the importance of “severe” measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak during a virtual meeting of the Milwaukee Rotary Club. 

Dr. Robert Gleeson, before a virtual meeting of Milwaukee Rotary Club praised the governors of Midwest states including Wisconsin for hosting daily conference calls to coordinate a regional response to the pandemic. Gleeson is an associate professor at Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin, and was formerly the medical director of Northwestern Mutual. 

“If we can contain it regionally, we’re a little better off because we’re not containing it nationwide,” he said yesterday. “We’re actually in pretty darn good shape in Wisconsin.” 

But across the entire country, he noted that containment efforts have “largely failed” due to insufficient tests being available. As a comparison, South Korea more effectively contained the spread of the virus through widespread testing and the number of new cases there has leveled off in recent days, he noted. 

But the United States doesn’t have the same capability to ramp up testing and surveillance as South Korea did, so Gleesen said people will have to take matters into their own hands. He said recent images of packed beaches in Florida were “appalling,” noting “we have to do social distancing smarter.” 

“This is how we’re going to have this thing ebb,” he said. “We will have to be very strict — no exceptions. Everybody stay home. Now that’s going to require a lot of work to get food and food pantries and social needs, but we’re Americans. We can do this.” 

— The president of the Medical College of Wisconsin told business leaders that if Wisconsinites don’t flatten the coronavirus infection curve, there will be a crisis in as little as three weeks.

Dr. John Raymond, president and CEO of the MCW, said yesterday that social or physical distancing techniques are essential to preventing healthcare facilities from being overwhelmed. COVID-19 attacks the lower respiratory system and causes pneumonia and pulmonary failure, which requires ventilators.

“We’re concerned that we don’t have enough ventilators to take care of patients that we might have here in Wisconsin,” said Raymond in his presentation on the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce’s webinar yesterday, a part of the series “Business Strategies During the Pandemic.”

“If you look at the testing in Wisconsin over the last week, there’s been a consistent trend of about 30 to 35 percent new positive tests every day,” he said. “That means the doubling rate is about every three days; the growth is not linear, it’s exponential.”

Raymond referred to the crisis in Italy and New York, where healthcare facilities are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. 

“Italy did too little too late,” he said. “We don’t want to repeat the mistakes that were made in New York, New Orleans and the countries in Europe in which people were worried they were overreacting.”

He said everybody can get COVID-19 and there is “significant morbidity” from the virus.  

“This virus is not just the flu; the ability to induce mortality is anywhere from 10 to 50 times the seasonal influenza.” 

— The state Department of Workforce Development is closing its job centers statewide in hopes of limiting the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. 

In a release, the agency tells individuals filing for unemployment insurance to visit a website for resources and information on how to apply. Services will also be available over the phone. 

More than 30,000 unemployment insurance claims were made in the state between Sunday and Monday. That’s compared to under 2,500 claims for the same two days of 2019. 

See the DWD site on UI benefits: 

— The Department of Natural Resources has waived all fees for state parks remaining open during the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement, DNR said people should be “staying home as much as possible” to slow the spread of the virus. But it also said CDC guidelines suggest people go outdoors from time to time for the physical and mental benefits.

According to the release, campsites and park offices will be closed, but bathrooms and boat launches remain open. Staff will also continue to provide routine sweeps and general park maintenance. Wisconsin waters also are open to fishing.

DNR recommended people continue to practice social distancing while at the parks and do not congregate in close spaces.

See the release:

— The latest edition of the WARF Entrepreneurons this afternoon will be done as a webinar focusing on: “COVID-19: What local entrepreneurs need to know right now.”

Speakers on the 3 p.m. session will include gener8tor co-founder Joe Kirgues, Rock River Capital Partner Partner Chris Eckstrom, WEDC Vice President of Entrepreneurship Aaron Hagar, StartingBlock Madison Executive Director Chandra Miller Fienan, WARF Venture Officer Mike Partsch and others.

See more:


# Golf courses to be closed under Gov. Tony Evers’ ‘safer at home’ order

# Advocate Aurora-owned ACL Laboratories begins processing COVID-19 tests

# By the numbers: Mass layoffs in Wisconsin attributed to COVID-19



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