When can Wisconsin open? Tracking the Badger Bounce Back plan


NOTE: WFRV Local 5 will update this story once a day following the Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ daily official update. This story will not include new cases announced by individual counties.

TUESDAY 5/12/2020 2:13 p.m.

(WFRV) – In late April, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers announced the Badger Bounce Back Plan – a plan to reopen the state’s economy after the coronavirus outbreak caused much of it to shut down in March.

The plan is a phased approach that relies on the state meeting numerous benchmarks. Here’s a look at the reopening phases:

  • Phase One: Mass gatherings of up to 10 people resume; restaurants open with social distancing requirements; removal of certain restrictions including retail restrictions for Essential Businesses and Operations; additional operations for non-essential businesses; K-12 schools to resume in-person operation; child care settings resume full operation.
  • Phase Two: Mass gatherings of up to 50 people resume; restaurants resume full operation; bars reopen with social distancing requirements; non-essential businesses resume operations with social distancing requirements; postsecondary education institutions may resume operation.
  • Phase Three: All business activity and gatherings resume, with minimal protective and preventative measures in place for the general public and more protective measures for vulnerable populations.
Turn the dial for the Badger Bounce Back: Wheel with red to green circles with: Safer at Home, Access to testing, Expanded tracing, Aggressive tracking, Access to more PPE, Increased capacity, Badger Bounce Back
Photo courtesy DHS
Related: More Wisconsin businesses allowed to open under latest turn of the dial

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, there are six gating criteria to determine Wisconsin’s progress through the phases in order to get Wisconsinites back to work. Those are:

  • Downward trajectory of flu-like illnesses reported within a 14-day period
  • Downward trajectory of COVID-like syndromic cases reported within a 14-day period
  • Downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period
  • 95% of hospitals affirm they can treat all patients without crisis care
  • 95% of all hospitals affirm they have arranged for testing for all symptomatic clinical staff treating patients at the hospital per CDC guidelines
  • Downward trend of COVID-19 cases among healthcare workers calculated weekly

As of Tuesday, May 12, four criteria have been met, as seen in the table below.

On Friday, May 8, DHS reported that a downward trajectory of flu-like illnesses within a 14-day period had been met. As of Monday, that criterion has returned to ‘red dot’ – meaning an upward trajectory was reported, resetting the status to not met.

Related: Wisconsin ‘Turn the Dial’ order now in effect, some nonessential businesses can reopen
Updated on 5/12/2020
SymptomsDownward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) reported within a 14-day period.Red indicator = no progress
SymptomsDownward trajectory of COVID-like syndromic cases reported within a 14-day period.Green indicator = metric achieved
CasesDownward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period.Green indicator = metric achieved
Hospitals95% of hospitals affirm that they can treat all patients without crisis standards of care.Green indicator = metric achieved
Hospitals95% of all hospitals affirm that they have arranged for testing for all symptomatic clinical staff treating patients at the hospital per CDC guidelines.Green indicator = metric achieved
Health careDownward trend of COVID-19 cases among health care workers calculated weekly.Green indicator = metric achieved

In addition to these benchmarks, there are also three core state responsibilities: testing, tracing, and tracking.


Gov. Evers and DHS officials say they want the state to be able to provide coronavirus testing for every Wisconsinites who have symptoms. To achieve this, a goal of conducting 85,000 tests per week, or about 12,000 tests a day, has been set. As of May 12, DHS reports there are 51 labs in Wisconsin with a testing capacity of 13,795 tests a day.

The state has outlined aspects they will focus on to meet the expanded testing goal – ensuring healthcare systems and labs have necessary supplies to conduct testing and mobile/temporary testing sites will be set up to address areas with the most pressing needs.

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DHS and Gov. Evers say that contact tracing also plays a major roll in controlling the spread of the coronavirus. Under the Badger Bounce Back plan, officials say they will increase Wisconsin’s contact tracing efforts by hiring 1,000 additional staff to ensure everyone who tests positive is contacted and has resources to safely isolate and quarantine.

During a media briefing on Friday, Secretary-designee Andrea Palm with DHS said that interviews were underway for contact tracer candidates.

Related: The latest coronavirus case numbers in Wisconsin

The main focus for the tracking aspect, according to DHS, is to build on systems used to track influenza in order to track the spread of the disease and report on the gating criteria and other related metrics to keep everyone informed about how we are doing.

Under the Badger Bounce Back plan, the state says they will also work to acquire PPE and other necessary supplies for healthcare and public safety agencies, provide support to healthcare systems in the event of a surge, and work with employers, long-term care facilities, and residents, in general, to provide protocols to ensure the health and safety of Wisconsinites.

DHS says that, in order for Wisconsin to enter phase one of the Badger Bounce Back plan, all gating criteria must be met, as well as all Core State Responsibilities. They add that the Safer at Home order – which is set to end on May 26 – is working.

According to DHS, Wisconsin has seen a decrease in the exponential growth in the number of cases since March 25 – the day Safer at Home began. In early March, DHS reports Wisconsin’s rate of doubling of infections was 3.4 days. This means that about every 3 days, Wisconsin’s cases were doubling – on a Monday, there may have been 1 case. Three days later, on Thursday, there’d be 2. By Sunday, there’d be 4, and so on.

Over the last two weeks, the rate of doubling is now about 12 days.

By continuing to limit physical contact between people, DHS says Wisconsinites are helping to continue flattening the curve. Currently, there are no medical treatments or vaccines that can slow the spread of coronavirus, meaning only social distancing can slow the spread. DHS explains that if Wisconsin stopped current strategies of social distancing without implementing strategies outlined in the Badger Bounce Back plan, the state would see a surge in cases.


WFRV COVID-19 Coverage | Confirmed cases in Wisconsin
Tracking coronavirus | Local health experts talk coronavirus
Stimulus check calculator| Local businesses hiring during outbreak

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