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: 4.2.2020

April 2, 2020

COVID-19 DAILY HEALTH UPDATE

(Information current as of 1:00 p.m. Central, Thursday, April 2, 2020)

  • Total people with negative results: 20,317 (+1,498)
  • Total people with positive results: 1,730 (+180)
  • Total deaths: 31 (+7)

ALERT! FEDERAL JUDGE CONLEY RULES SPRING PRIMARY ELECTION TO BE HELD APRIL 7; PUSHS BACK ABSENTEE BALLOT DEADLINE UNTIL APRIL 13
This afternoon, Federal Western District Judge William Conley issued a decision in the consolidated cases relating to the conduct of the Spring General Elections on April 7. 

Importantly for counties, Judge Conley’s decision does NOT change the election date – absent extraordinary intervention from the Court of Appeals or action from the Legislature (neither of which appear at this time to be likely), the election will proceed on Tuesday. 

In his decision on this point, Judge Conley noted that “at most, the court can only act in good faith to allow the WEC, local municipalities and poll workers to take what steps they can to vindicate the constitutional right to vote. Accordingly, the court must conclude that plaintiffs have not met their burden of showing that the balance of equities favors enjoining the upcoming election day.”

While the Court did not enjoin the election date, the Court did order the following: 14) Defendants the Commissioners of the Wisconsin Election Commission and its Administrator are ENJOINED as follows: a) Defendants are enjoined from enforcing the requirement under Wis. Stat. § 6.87(6) that absentee ballots must be received by 8:00 p.m. on election day to be counted. The deadline for receipt of absentee ballots is extended to 4:00 p.m. on April 13, 2020. b) Defendants are enjoined from enforcing the requirement under Wis. Stat. § 6.86(1)(b) that absentee ballot requests must be received by April 2, 2020. 

The deadline for receipt of absentee ballot requests by mail, fax or email (and if deemed administratively feasible in the sole discretion of the WEC Administrator, online) is extended to 5:00 p.m. on April 3, 2020. c) Defendants are enjoined from enforcing Wis. Stat. § 6.87(2) as to absentee voters who have provided a written affirmation or other statement that they were unable to safely obtain a witness certification despite reasonable efforts to do so, provided that the ballots are otherwise valid. County clerks are strongly encouraged to work with municipal clerks and WEC regarding the implementation of these new rules regarding absentee ballots.  

While the Association understands and appreciates the tremendous challenges associated with conducting a statewide election at this time, we are pleased that county government will be allowed to continue in an orderly fashion as our county boards transition following the election. If you have any questions about the decision, please contact us at 866.404.2700. 

EMERGENCY ORDER #12: SAFER AT HOME FAQS
On March 25, 2020, Governor Tony Evers and Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm issued Emergency Order #12, Safer at Home, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The order runs from 8 a.m. on Wednesday, March 25 and will remain in effect until 8 a.m. on Friday, April 24, or until a superseding order is issued.

Our county officials, including county corporation counsels, have received many questions regarding this order, what is applicable, what is not, etc.
To clarify, Governor’s Evers Office has released this helpful FAQs document on the Safer at Home Order:

GOVERNOR EVERS ANNOUNCES ADDITIONAL SHIPMENT OF PPE FROM STRATEGIC NATIONAL STOCKPILE
Earlier this week, Governor Tony Evers announced that Wisconsin has received its second phase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) and is in the process of distribution. The second phase of supplies from the SNS are being delivered to healthcare workers, emergency medical services, and medical facilities including hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and clinics across Wisconsin.

STATE EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER COLLECTING PPE
The State Emergency Operations Center has streamlined its process to collect personal protective equipment (PPE) and other resources to help in the state’s COVID-19 response. If manufacturers, educational facilities, and other organizations in your community have PPE or other resources, please direct them here.