Council will try to put restrictions back in place Monday evening.
The Racine Common Council will hold an emergency meeting Monday evening after a Racine County judge on Friday temporarily nixed the city’s local extension of the defunct statewide stay-home order designed to slow the coronavirus pandemic.
The judge’s decision, first reported by the Racine Journal Times, reopened the city at least temporarily. A local gym owner sued the city last month, saying his business had decreased by 25 percent since the order was issued; the judge’s temporary blocking of the order will last while the lawsuit is argued.
Racine city officials responded quickly, scheduling a special Common Council meeting for 6 p.m. Monday to adopt a new set of rules. It is unclear what those proposed regulations are.
The City of Racine, population roughly 75,000, had more than 1,400 coronavirus cases as of Monday, and the county had about 2,100 total, according to local and state data. Racine County quickly became a coronavirus hotspot, surging to an infection rate neck-and-neck with that in Milwaukee County.
Just over 1 in 100 Racine County residents have COVID-19, and about 1 in 50 do in the city, the highest per-capita number of cases in the entire state.
After the Wisconsin Supreme Court killed Gov. Tony Evers’ stay-home order, the City of Racine was among a handful of localities that issued their own orders. The Central Racine County Health Department, which serves the rest of the county, declined to issue any restrictions and instead opted to give recommendations.
“Safer at Home and Forward Racine were working,” Mayor Cory Mason said in a statement. “While our infection rate is still four times the state average, we have seen a 33% reduction in infection rates. The judge’s recklessness jeopardizes the public health gains we have made and will endanger the health of our residents.”
Dottie-Kay Bowersox, the city’s public health officer, said there was evidence the local order was working to stop the virus spread and expressed no regrets about extending the order locally.
“If the orders I issued kept one family safe or saved one life, it was the right thing,” Bowersox said in a statement.
Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who represents western Racine County, falsely blamed the mass spread on immigrants and refused to apologize when Latino activists and advocacy groups pushed back.
In April, Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling announced he would no longer enforce the statewide stay-home order. Mason said “I don’t think it’s a coincidence” that cases began to drastically spike just a few weeks later.