While supporters of former Vice President Joe Biden may be celebrating an apparent win in Wisconsin, the case can arguably be made the results were more a case of President Donald Trump losing Wisconsin due to mismanagement of a coronavirus outbreak that has led to another record-setting day for cases and hospitalizations.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced a record 5,935 new COVID-19 cases in Wednesday’s daily report, breaking the record 5,771 cases reported on Tuesday.
Additionally, 54 coronavirus-related deaths were recorded around the state, raising the pandemic’s Wisconsin death toll to 2,156. Another 52 deaths had been reported on Tuesday.
The Wisconsin Hospital Association on Wednesday reported a record number of COVID-19 patients needing hospitalization (1,714), a record number of those patients in intensive care units (360) and a record number of total Wisconsin patients on ventilators (559, up nearly 30 from Tuesday).
“We should not be having contact with other human beings that we do not live with,” said DHS Sec. Andrea Palm Wednesday. “Hard stop. That is where we are.”
“That is the best tool we have to stop this disease. We all need to do it with vigilance.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court Wednesday denied a petition by the state to have a case challenging the indoor capacity limit bypass the lower courts. The powerful Tavern League of Wisconsin is among the plaintiffs attempting to strike down a statewide order issued Oct. 7 that limits public gatherings and restricts capacities to 25% of an establishment’s maximum occupancy to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“While it did not end up in the Supreme Court today or tomorrow, I’m very confident we will end up there in the not too distant future,” said Ryan Nilsestuen, chief legal council for the governor’s office.
He said the state believes it has a strong legal argument based on the court’s decision that overturned the Evers’ administration’s safer-at-home order. While that order was overturned, the part the justices left intact pertained to schools.
Nilsestuen said the state issued the capacity limit rule based on that authority that was left to the state in the May ruling.
“The reason we wanted to go directly to the Supreme Court is we believe it is important in the middle of a pandemic for this to be quickly resolved,” he said. “The longer we are fighting about it in courts, the less time we have to implement measures that we know will save lives.”
In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, University of Wisconsin System officials are offering free antigen testing for the virus to all students, including those who live off campus. Those tests will be available to asymptomatic students, faculty, staff, and their dependents as well as community members.
On-campus students already are tested twice monthly, and some universities have previously expanded testing to those living off campus. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is partnering with the UW System to pay for the additional testing, including testing supplies and additional staff.
Antigen tests are helpful in determining whether someone has been exposed to the virus but are not as accurate as PCR tests. Students who test positive using an antigen test would be expected to quarantine and follow up with a PCR test.
UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt said the additional tests will be useful in helping identify the virus among off-campus students, where most COVID-19 cases among the university population in Eau Claire have occurred. Without being tested, students may be asymptomatic and unknowingly be infecting others with the virus.
Antigen testing at UW-Eau Claire will begin on Thursday and will be done in addition to COVID-19 tests already occurring at the university. Eau Claire is among Wisconsin hotspots for the virus.
“It is important that we do everything we can quickly to slow down the spread (of the virus),” Schmidt said.
Committee’s recommendations still need DHS approval. Some groups will be at an employer’s discretion.
Last time, blocking access to his feed cost Wisconsin taxpayers $200,000 in court costs.
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