Childrens Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee
Photo provided by Children's Wisconsin

Evers says he does not believe ‘shelter in place’ is in the state’s future

Wisconsin has become at least the 13th state to reach triple digits in the number of positive COVID-19 cases with 106 people affected. 

The daily update came Wednesday afternoon shortly after Gov. Evers announced new restrictions on child care centers and at about the same time that a major hospital in Milwaukee confirmed one of its doctors is among those COVID-19 cases.

In a call with 2,000 business owners coordinated by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and sponsored by CUNA Mutual Group, Evers said he did not believe Wisconsin “would have to resort to shelter in place,” the most aggressive action to contain the virus’ spread that was first implemented in the San Francisco Bay Area Tuesday. 

“We believe what we have in place now will get us to a better place,” said Evers in regard to a litany of measures taken in recent days to close all K-12 schools indefinitely, close bars, restrict restaurants to delivery and carry-out only, and limit gatherings to fewer than 10 people. 

Shelter-in-place directives are intended to help stem the spread of the virus by keeping people isolated at home. All non-essential businesses are ordered closed under the directives, leaving only hospitals, fire departments, law enforcement and limited essential businesses including grocery stores and pharmacies open.

Although the directives can fall short of the fully enforced lock downs that multiple European countries have implemented to combat the virus, breaking the order in San Francisco is a misdemeanor.

Shelter in place orders do not apply to essential workers but everyone else would typically only be allowed to venture outside for reasons like getting groceries or visiting a pharmacy or doctor. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday he would decide within 48 hours whether to issue a shelter-in-place order for New York City.

Evers added if that more drastic measure was deemed necessary he would consult with the business community first. 

“We would reach out to the business community before we made that decision,” Evers said. 

The Department of Health Services said it appears community spread of the coronavirus remains confined to Milwaukee, Kenosha and Dane Counties.

“In the early days we could connect why a person had COVID-19,” said Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary of the Department of Health Services, during the call with Evers and the business community. “In at least three counties that is no longer true. It is just circulating among the populations.”

A breakout by county is as follows: Milwaukee 47, Dane 23, Fond du Lac 12, Waukesha 5, Kenosha and Sheboygan 4 each, Winnebago 3, Washington 2, and one each in Brown, La Crosse, Outagamie, Pierce, Racine and Wood.

Dept. of Health Services graphic

Children’s Wisconsin sent an email announcing that an unidentified physician has tested positive for the coronavirus. The doctor, who had been traveling outside the United States before travel restrictions were put in place, is reported to be confined to home with mild symptoms.

“We have seen this happen at health care organizations across the nation, and we knew it was only a matter of time before we had a confirmed case on our team,” the hospital said in a statement.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the hospital was testing 10 patients and about 190 health care workers, but a national shortage of tests was leaving out some of those who may have been exposed to the doctor

The new rules on childcare settings, issued by DHS Sec. Andrea Palm, set a limit of 10 staff that may be present at any time and no more than 50 children can be at the center.

Parents and guardians are strongly urged to put six feet of distance between each other to minimize any risk of community spread of the virus.

The restrictions take effect on Thursday at 8 a.m. and will remain in place indefinitely.

The Associated Press contributed information to this report.