COVID-19 UPDATES FOR COUNTY OFFICIALS

As issues continue to develop and change at a quick rate with COVID-19, the Coronavirus, we at the Wisconsin Counties Association (WCA) are working alongside Governor Tony Evers, the Administration, the National Association of Counties (NACo) and our general counsel, von Briesen & Roper, s.c., (von Briesen) to provide the latest resources and updates to assist county officials during this unprecedented time.

COVID-19 Daily Update: 3.20.2020

March 20, 2020
In this WCA COVID-19 Daily Update, we discuss our work with Governor Evers and the Administration, discuss the latest updates on spring elections, discuss the mass gatherings order and share U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Region 5 updates.

WCA CONTINUING WORK WITH GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, ADMINISTRATION
Today WCA staff reiterated to Governor Evers our request to allow medical professionals whose licenses have expired to return to work temporarily to assist during the pandemic.

Please note our staff is in daily contact with the Governor’s office and state agencies and we encourage county officials to let us know of any items they believe merit the attention of the Governor.

LEGAL UPDATE ON SPRING ELECTIONS
In the event Governor Evers were to postpone the Spring General Election because of the COVID- 19 emergency, county governments could face an unprecedented challenge – no county supervisors will have been elected, and therefore no county supervisors would qualify to serve, for the next 2-year term. With no counties adopting staggered terms, counties would effectively be left with no boards until the rescheduled Spring election takes place. In light of the statutory requirement to meet “on the 3rd Tuesday of each April,” counties would find themselves in a difficult position as it relates to continuity of governance.

Read the Full Legal Update on Spring Elections from Andrew Phillips and Jacob Curtis of von Briesen & Roper, s.c.

GOVERNOR EVERS, DHS ANNOUNCE UPDATED MASS GATHERINGS ORDER
Governor Tony Evers today directed Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to issue updates to the previous order prohibiting mass gatherings of 10 or more people.

The updated order maintains the ban on gatherings of 10 or more people and indefinite school closures, but includes some important changes and clarifications:

  • Treats bars and restaurants are the same. Bars will be able to have carryout sales of alcohol and food, if allowed by local ordinances and state law. This will help ensure thousands of establishments can stay in business during this unprecedented health emergency.
  • Media and news organizations can remain open to provide the public with vital information.
  • Laundromats may remain open.
  • Banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions may remain open if they practice social distancing.
  • All parts of the food delivery system – from farms to stores – may remain open.
  • Clarifies that cafeterias in healthcare facilities may remain open to serve our healthcare workers.
  • Allied health professions, such as acupuncturists, are unaffected by the mass gathering ban.
  • All parts of our transportation system can continue to serve our economy.
  • Any facility used for in-person absentee voting or as a polling location may remain open for voting, except for sites at long-term care and assisted care facilities.
  • Hair salons, day spas, nail salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors, body art establishments, and tanning facilities must close effective 5 pm on Fri., March 20, 2020.

Read the 3.20.20 Release from Governor Evers

QUARANTINE, ENFORCEMENT AND DISCLOSURE QUESTIONS DURING PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY
Wisconsin counties are confronting specific questions in light of counties’ statutory obligations to enforce both state and local orders relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. This Memorandum will address the following specific issues: (1) isolation and quarantine patients of COVID-19; (2) a county’s ability to enforce public health orders and the use of law enforcement; and (3) privacy considerations and whether a county may disclose patient information to EMS and other first- responders.

Read this Legal Update from Von Briesen’s Andrew Phillips, Ben Conard and Rebecca Roeker.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES REGION 5 UPDATE
The federal government continues to take proactive steps to address the COVID-19 threat as the health and safety of the American people remain a top priority.

See the latest guidance and releases from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in response to COVID-19

COMBATTING DISINFORMATION
These are uncertain times. As a partner with Homeland Security, counties are working to combat disinformation amid COVID-19. Be sure to check out federal resources for the latest updates

Check out the FEMA rumor control page dedicated to COVID-19
Fifteen Days to Slow the Spread” PDF

QUESTIONS
As always, do not hesitate to contact WCA with questions at 866.404.2700 or von Briesen’s Andrew T. Phillips at 414.287.1570.