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: 5.15.2020

May 15, 2020

COVID-19 DAILY HEALTH UPDATE
(Information from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) current as of 1:00 p.m. Central, Friday, May 15, 2020)

  • Total people with negative results: 128,657 (+6,059)
  • Total people with positive results: 11,685 (+410)
  • Hospitalizations: 1,977 (+38) or 17%
  • Total deaths: 445 (+11)

WCA STATEMENT ON COVID-19 AND LOCAL HEALTH ORDER AUTHORITY
There have been various recent reports of Wisconsin Counties Association positions regarding COVID-19 and local health order authority. Wisconsin Counties Association has made no statement on the legality of local public health orders and has issued no formal guidance on such.  The Association held a webinar call with membership on May 14, 2020 discussing uncertainty regarding the Supreme Court ruling and its impact on state and local authority. To reiterate the statements made on the call, counties should act in the best interest of their citizens.  We recommend counties consider WEDC guidelines on business reopening, WHA health and hospital data, and communication with neighboring counties to facilitate a regional approach if possible.

In case you missed it, below please find the document on considerations for counties published in the May 14, 2020 WCA COVID-19 Daily Update.

ICYMI: SUPREME COURT RULING IN WISCONSIN LEGISLATURE V. PALM: CONSIDERATIONS FOR COUNTIES
The May 13, 2020 Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling in Wisconsin Legislature v. Palm has resulted in uncertainty surrounding the public response to COVID-19. While WCA and legal counsel are continuing to assess the decision and its affect on state and county authority, counties are encouraged to immediately begin considering the following:

REGIONAL COORDINATION
Counties are encouraged to communicate and, to the extent possible, coordinate local public health efforts and other COVID-19 activities with neighboring counties. Regional consistency of local health orders, guidelines, and enforcement provides certainty for the public and businesses. As we know, COVID-19 is not confined to county boundaries. Regional approaches to COVID-19 will lead to more productive outcomes than counties acting in isolation. WCA encourages counties to schedule regular communication with regional neighbors to consider and share COVID-19 strategies.  

GUIDELINES FOR BUSINESS REOPENING
Counties are encouraged to review and consider guidelines for business reopening. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has developed industry specific documents for business operations during the COVID-19 pandemic that counties should consider. The guidelines were developed in consultation with state agencies, including the Department of Health Services, Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, Department of Safety and Professional Services, and Department of Tourism. General and industry specific WEDC guidance can be found here.

MONITORING HEALTH AND HOSPITAL DATA
Counties are encouraged to be in regular communication with local hospitals and health systems. The Wisconsin Hospital Association has provided a useful online tool that shows daily updates on COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, ICU capacity and ventilator availability by HERC (Healthcare Emergency Readiness Coalition) regions. This data is intentionally reported by HERC region as the sharing of information and resources for emergency response already occur within these regions. We encourage counties to utilize this information and also communicate directly with hospitals and health systems to understand how COVID-19 is impacting their facilities, staff and resources. It is also important to remember that hospital and health systems were not impacted by the Safer at Home order established under Emergency Order #28, as they were considered an essential business and allowed to continue operating. Wisconsin counties have an important local government function to provide community surveillance testing and tracing for Wisconsin residents. We encourage counties to work with the WCA and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to create additional COVID-19 community surveillance testing and tracing capacity at the local government level.

SUBMIT REPLACEMENT ORDERS ISSUED BY LOCAL HEALTH OFFICIALS TO WCA
The May 13, 2020 Supreme Court’s decision in Wisconsin Legislature v. Palm, declared Emergency Order #28, Safer at Home (and other Orders emanating from Emergency Order #28) “unlawful, invalid, and unenforceable, with the exception of school closures. 

The Court’s decision raises several questions for counties, the primary question being the extent of a Local Health Official’s (“LHO”) authority to issue a replacement order or orders and enforce those replacement orders or local orders that existed prior to the Court’s decision. 

We at the Association are requesting you submit any replacement orders issued by your LHO to Chelsea Fibert of the Wisconsin Counties Association via email.

WISCONSIN GROCERS ASSOCIATION COVID-19 RESOURCES
The Wisconsin Grocers Association (WGA) is constantly updating retailers, warehouse personnel and allied members of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The WGA is actively monitoring local, state and federal government for changes specific to the COVID-19 emergency.

WISCONSIN RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION SHARES REOPENING RESOURCES
The Wisconsin Restaurant Association has issued their Promise Document, as well as their reopen checklist.

FEMA DAILY BRIEFING POINTS FOR COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Below please find the Friday, May 15, 2020 FEMA Daily Briefing Points for the Whole-of-America response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.