Lieske Giese, Eau Claire City-County Health Department director, said it is highly unlikely COVID-19 precautions will be lifted by Easter Sunday, April 12, as President Donald Trump said he would like to see happen. (Photo by Julian Emerson)
Lieske Giese, Eau Claire City-County Health Department director, said it is highly unlikely COVID-19 precautions will be lifted by Easter Sunday, April 12, as President Donald Trump said he would like to see happen. (Photo by Julian Emerson)

Why Easter? ‘I think it will be a beautiful time,’ President says with no scientific basis

A local public health official in western Wisconsn said President Donald Trump’s stated desire to have America resume normal operations by Easter Sunday despite an acceleration of COVID-19 cases across the country is not based on scientific evidence and unlikely to happen.

Lieske Giese, director of the Eau Claire City-County Health Department, said during a news conference Tuesday that Trump’s statement earlier that day that he wants to “open up” the U.S. by April 12 doesn’t conform with the advice of medical experts nor a “Safer at Home” order by Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers issued Monday that takes effect Wednesday morning. 

“It is clear from the science that (COVID-19) is going to be in Wisconsin for a significant period of time,” Giese said after the news conference. “Given what we have seen in other countries, this is not going to be over anytime soon.”

Trump made his comments during a town hall on Fox News during which he discussed his impatience with the widespread closing of business and the resulting economic slowdown due to the natural catastophe. Evers’ order includes the closing of all businesses not deemed essential and urges all residents not required to be at work for essential business to remain home. 

Public health experts have said regulations keeping people from congregating, known as “social distancing,” could be in effect for many weeks. Such large-scale events as the summer Olympic games and music concerts not scheduled to occur until this summer have been cancelled or delayed because of concerns about the virus. 

The governor’s “Safer at Home” order extends through April 24 or longer because of “significant” public health concerns related to COVID-19, Giese said. It is even likely the order — which requires state residents stay home unless they go out for such necessary trips as groceries, medicine and health care — will be extended beyond April 24, given continued growth of people testing positive for the virus, she said. 

The order comes as the Wisconsin Department of Family Services announced 457 positive cases and five deaths from COVID-19, and amid growing concerns as governors in other states, including Michigan, Illinois, Ohio and California have made similar declarations.

At a news conference Tuesday, Evers stressed the importance of citizens complying with the order. Initially he didn’t intend to mandate such regulations, he said, but the spread of COVID-19 prompted him to do so.

“Folks need to start taking this seriously,” Evers said, noting public health officials and local leaders had urged him to take an “all-hands-on-deck approach.” 

Evers and DHS Secretary Andrea Palm noted the growing seriousness of the virus and said it is becoming apparent measures needed to address it aren’t likely to end anytime soon. Without issuing the order, Palm said, public health officials estimate roughly 22,000 people in Wisconsin would have contracted the virus and between 440 and 1,500 would have died from it by April 8.

The order includes a broad list of essential business types with fairly detailed descriptions. Businesses unsure about whether they fit into the essential business category should contact the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

Funerals and weddings will still be allowed, but will be limited to fewer than ten people, according to the order. Restaurants will be able to continue serving takeout only, as they have been since last week.

Violation of the order could result in up to 30 days in jail, a $250 fine, or both. Enforcement will be left up to local law agencies. People will not have to carry proof of essential travel.