MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) – Governor Tony Evers has issued an order to prohibit mass gatherings of 10 or more people in order to slow the spread of coronavirus. Bars and restaurants will also be required to move to only take-out or delivery options.

According to Gov. Evers’ office, the order regarding mass gatherings does not apply to transportation, educational institutions, child care, hotels, military, law enforcement, food pantries, hospitals, long-term care facilities, restaurants and bars can only offer take-out or delivery, grocery stores and convenience stores, utility facilities, job centers, and courts. Schools have been ordered to remain closed for the duration of the public health emergency.

“Our top priority at this time is to keep Wisconsinites safe and healthy by reducing the spread of COVID-19, especially for those who are considered high-risk. With limited tests available nationwide and continued community spread, we have to take every precaution to protect ourselves, our families, and our neighbors,” said Gov. Evers. “I know what this means for our small business owners and the struggles they and their workers will face in the coming weeks, but we are committed to working with our federal partners, state officials, and stakeholders to ensure we are doing everything we can to assist during these uncertain times.”

Community spread of coronavirus has been confirmed in Wisconsin, specifically in Milwaukee, Dane, and Kenosha counties. Community spread means people who have tested positive for coronavirus have had no exposures to a known case nor did they travel to a location where there is known community spread.

DHS and the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene have moved to tiered coronavirus testing to manage the capacity. Despite increasing their capacity, the number of testing specimens being received far exceeds their daily capacity. In order to conserve supplies for testing, WSLH and DHS are now prioritizing two tiers of cases for testing.

Tier One:

  • Are critically ill and receiving ICU level care with unexplained viral pneumonia or respiratory failure.
  • Are hospitalized (non-ICU) with fever or signs and symptoms of lower respiratory tract illness (cough, shortness of breath) and either known exposure to a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient or travel to an area with sustained community transmission.

Tier Two:

  • Are hospitalized (non-ICU) with unexplained fever and signs/symptoms of lower respiratory tract illness.
  • Are health care workers with unexplained fever and signs/symptoms of a lower-respiratory illness, regardless of hospitalization.

Test requests that do not meet these criteria will be sent to other labs in the state and country for testing, resulting in longer wait times.

Patients without symptoms and patients with mild upper respiratory symptoms who are not health care workers should not be tested in order to ensure that there is capacity to test ill people.

Health officials are asking people should follow simple steps to prevent illness and avoid exposure to this virus including:

  • Avoid social gatherings with people of all ages (including playdates and sleepovers, parties, large family dinners, visitors in your home, non-essential workers in your house);
  • Frequent and thorough handwashing with soap and water;
  • Covering coughs and sneezes;
  • Avoiding touching your face;
  • Staying home when sick.